UMass Amherst closes in on $300M fundraising goal

AMHERST — Efforts by the state’s public universities to boost private fundraising are paying off, including at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which is closing in on a $300 million fundraising goal.

The five-campus University of Massachusetts system and the nine-campus state university network nearly doubled their annual private fundraising totals over the past decade, the Boston Globe reported Monday. The increase in donations came at a time when financial support from the state shrunk.

Edward Blaguszewski, a UMass Amherst spokesman, said the state’s flagship university has made a concerted effort to adopt best practices and strategies for fundraising from universities around the country as it strengthens connections with potential donors.

“One of the main goals is to strengthen that culture of giving, to have people recognize and value the importance of giving to UMass,” he said. “I think people realize we can’t simply do it through the state appropriation. I think that’s begun to resonate with alumni.”

Blaguszewski said the university has seen improvements and growth in fundraising from individuals, corporations and foundations in recent years. UMass Amherst has 238,048 living alumni, according to figures provided by the university.

According to the Globe report, state statistics show that yearly donations to the UMass campuses increased from $63 million in the 2004 fiscal year to $111.5 million in 2014. Massachusetts’ state universities saw annual private gifts jump from $9.4 million to $18 million over that span.

UMass Amherst publicly launched a $300 million fundraising campaign called UMass Rising in April 2013, and as of this week had raised more than $250 million. The campaign officially started in 2010 and will conclude next year, according to the university.

“We’re very pleased,” Blaguszewski said of the campaign’s progress. “We’re at about 85 percent of the goal and we’re confident we’re going to reach the goal.”

In the past four months, UMass-Amherst has received gifts of $10.3 million and $10 million. The $10.3 million gift, among the school’s largest, was anonymous and is to benefit the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The $10 million gift was made by Douglas and Diana Berthiaume to create a Center for Entrepreneurship within the university’s Isenberg School of Management. Douglas Berthiaume is a 1971 management school graduate of UMass Amherst and is chairman, president and CEO of Waters Corp. in Milford.

Also this year, Bridgewater State announced a record $3 million gift and UMass-Boston received a $1 million donation.

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