Record fundraising for Sydney University

6 January 2009

Sydney University recorded its most successful fundraising year ever in 2008 with donations surpassing $56 million, double the amount the University raised in 2007.

The fundraising result is the most successful ever for any University in Australia. It was achieved despite the effects of the global financial crisis. It was also extremely welcome in a year when stock markets plummeted and even the best managed endowments suffered set-backs.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Relations) Professor Andrew Coats said the result was not due to any one large donation but rather reflected a trend for both more donors and more large donations.

He said the number of people donating to the University increased from just over 6,000 in 2007 to nearly 9,000 in 2008. The average donation also increased more than 50% from approximately $4,000 to nearly $6,500. Although traditional areas were well supported such as scholarships and medical research, there was also a trend for more donations outside these traditional areas, to incorporate new areas of concern such as sustainability and initiatives for indigenous well-being. Our five biggest ever gifts have been received in the last three years, three of them in 2008, he said

"We have found that Australians are willing to give despite concerns about current economic movements and what might lie around the corner," Professor Coats said.

"There are definitely issues of societal concern for donors, and their resolve to see these addressed remains firm. We are delighted they trust in our ability as one of the nation's premier tertiary educational institutions to deliver high quality research into these important areas.

"Although our endowment is the largest in Australia this record performance allows us to do even more fundamental and applied research at a time when it is so desperately needed. The University sector can be a leader in these times of economic crisis as more students and employees seek higher qualifications as job opportunities dry up and research into tomorrow's problems becomes so much more urgent."

Professor Coats said the University was careful to listen to what people really wanted to achieve when they donated to the University, and actively helped them to realise their vision. For instance former transport magnate Greg Poche generously donated $10 million to Sydney University this year for the specific purpose of a Centre for Indigenous Health.

Another specific desire of donors has been for the establishment of academic chairs, and three were established through grants in 2008 - the Michael Hintze Chair in International Security, the Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture and the Wenkart Chair of the Endothelium.

The trend for donations for sustainability research has ranged from desires to address everything from energy security to agriculture to efficient energy transmission

"Philanthropy is of critical importance to Australia's tertiary sector. It allows us to achieve excellent outcomes in areas of importance to Australia's future. We are extremely grateful to our donors and we hope they will continue to work with us. " Professor Coats said.

Contact: Sarah Stock

Phone: 0419 278 715