Is Funding for Building Projects Becoming Passé?

Is Funding for Building Projects Becoming Passé?

December 16, 2010 by jga_admin

By Kris Kindelsperger

The recent announcement of a $23.7 million gift by Lilly Endowment to Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis for the purchase of a building which will be renovated into new facilities to house Workforce Development operations bucks the trend of what would seem to be a declining interest among funders in investing in facilities.

Recent experience with comprehensive capital campaigns with three of our clients revealed that funding for new programs and endowment proved far more attractive to donor prospects than did science buildings, student unions and performing arts buildings.

It wasn’t that many years ago that many fundraising professionals touted the adage that building money was easy to raise, but endowment funding was much more difficult.

The 2008 CASE Campaign Report provides statistical results that showed a 27 percent decline in donor interest to fund facilities and a 19 percent increase in their desire to fund programs and endowment from 2006 to 2008.

What’s behind these trends?

Clearly sophisticated donors are gaining an appreciation for the importance and value of endowments. And, funding to support the introduction of new programs that deal directly with emerging issues and challenges can certainly peak donor interest.

But, it’s less clear why donor interest appears to be leaning away from facilities. The anecdotal evidence is there, the study evidence is there, but evidence of why this is happening is less clear.

What’s been your experience with funding major facilities? What works? What’s not working as well today and what trends do you see?