The goal was ambitious and unprecedented for an Oberlin College fundraising campaign: to raise $250 million over seven years.
Yet 18 months ahead of schedule, in December 2014, the campaign had met its goal. And by the official close of the campaign this summer, Oberlin Illuminate had raised well over $317 million.
“I’m thrilled with the results,” said OC president Marvin Krislov. “We vastly exceeded our goals. And what I’m really gratified by is the number of people who participated in the process and that a lot of people gave at a very generous level. That says a lot about them and their commitment to Oberlin.”
Oberlin Illuminate was launched to the public in 2012 following a quiet groundwork-laying phase that aimed to broaden access to an Oberlin education, strengthen the campus community, enrich the academic program, make Oberlin more competitive, and better position students for success after they graduate.
Specific campaign priorities included boosting financial aid dollars and annual giving, broadening faculty support and curricular innovation, revitalizing health and wellness programs, supporting the Green Arts District, and completing construction of the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building for jazz studies.
Krislov said, though the campaign’s goal was met, the college will continue to raise money, particularly for student financial aid.
“This campaign was about strengthening the institutional culture of philanthropy, and I think we were very successful in accomplishing that,” said Bill Barlow, Oberlin’s vice president for development and alumni affairs. “The Annual Fund grew by one-third over the past seven years; giving from non-alumni parents and families nearly doubled; faculty and staff contributed $5.6 million; and hundreds of bequest expectancies and planned gifts were added to our books with a face value of $84.8 million. Our major gifts effort resulted in more than 500 individual and institutional donors making commitments of $50,000 to $1 million, and 71 donors made gifts of $1 million or more. Because of this campaign, our yearly average fundraising revenue grew from $22 million in 2008 to more than $40 million in 2016 — that’s an increase of 83 percent.”
Financial aid was the campaign’s top priority and it was where board of trustees chair Clyde McGregor directed much of his giving.
“I believe that keeping Oberlin accessible for students from every socioeconomic level is vitally important,” he said. “This helps level the playing field and allows these students to pursue the issues and subjects that matter most to them.”
Krislov said Oberlin’s educational model is expensive but worth it. “It’s hard to imagine a more transformative way of supporting students in their educational and cocurricular endeavors,” he said.
This story was prepared by Oberlin College communications staff and edited by the News-Tribune for style and length.
Photo by Scott Shaw Trustee Clyde McGregor greets Oberlin College president Marvin Krislov during the closing celebration of the 2016 Oberlin Illuminate campaign.