Skip to main content

Campaign has raised $2.77 billion

Northwestern ranked among top 10 U.S. universities for fundraising for second consecutive year

Arch and Northwestern University
  • Strategic plan implementation accelerated due to gifts for new professorships, scholarships and fellowships
  • An unprecedented four Campaign gifts of $100 million or more were announced
  • 112,860 donors have contributed so far, more than 80 percent of the 141,000 target

EVANSTON, Ill. — At the start of 2016, Northwestern University has raised nearly $2.77 billion towards its $3.75 billion goal for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern

Following the public launch of the Campaign in March 2014, fundraising in 2015 hit extraordinary new heights, including the announcement of an unprecedented four major gifts of at least $100 million from individual benefactors.

Campaign fundraising efforts had reached nearly three-quarters of the multi-year goal as of Dec. 31, 2015, while the University has benefited from the generosity of 112,860 donors so far, more than 80 percent of the total 141,000 donors the Campaign aims to engage.

As of Dec. 31, preliminary data show Campaign proceeds had already established 48 endowed professorships, raised $141.7 million for scholarships and established 239 new scholarships and fellowships. 

“This record-setting Campaign is advancing our strategic ambitions and helping solidify Northwestern as one of the world’s great universities,” said President Morton Schapiro. “We are grateful for the remarkable leadership generosity of the Northwestern community in support of this campaign.

“Every single gift is an investment in the important work we are doing to advance critical research, push the frontiers of knowledge and prepare the global leaders of tomorrow,” he added.

Commending the success of the Campaign, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized Northwestern with a 2015 CASE Educational Fundraising Award for its “superior fundraising programs.”

For the second year in a row, Northwestern was recognized among the top 10 most successful U.S. universities in fundraising. According to a survey conducted among U.S. higher education institutions by the Council for Aid to Education, Northwestern ranked ninth in fundraising in 2015, with a total of $536.84 million in gifts received in fiscal year 2015, and was one of only two institutions to receive two or more gifts of $100 million and above.

Among the largest donations in calendar year 2015 were four extraordinary gifts from donors who have given $100 million or more to the “We Will” Campaign:

  • The largest single gift in the University’s history -- more than $100 million -- was made in 2015 by alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott to create the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The gift increased her total giving to We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern to approximately $110 million. A 1954 graduate of Northwestern, she is the sister of Warren Buffett, the legendary financial investor and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Brother and sister were on hand for a joyous celebration Jan. 28, 2015, to announce the gift, which is transforming global programming at the University, supporting scholarships for international students and funding fellowships, travel, interdisciplinary professorships and research at home and abroad. The Buffett Institute for Global Studies follows a multidisciplinary and problem-solving approach to advancing important global issues and is taking the scope and impact of our global programs “to a whole new level,” President Schapiro said. 
  • On March 5, 2015, the University announced that Northwestern Trustee and alumnus Louis A. Simpson and his spouse, Trustee Kimberly K. Querrey, made a $92 million gift to Northwestern in support of the University’s biomedical research programs at the Feinberg School of Medicine. In recognition of their generosity, the new biomedical research center being erected on Northwestern’s Chicago campus will be named the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center. The gift came just a year after the couple made a $25 million gift to Northwestern to endow the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine (SQI). In August, Simpson and Querrey made an additional gift to create the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics within SQI and to establish the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey professorship in materials science and engineering, biomedical engineering and medicine, which will be held by John A. Rogers beginning in 2016. And in November, the couple made a $25 million gift predominantly in support of Northwestern Athletics and Recreation. In recognition of their generosity, Northwestern will name a wing of the Walter Athletics Center the Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Wing. Simpson and Querrey’s total contributions to We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern include more than $152 million, the largest amount given by a single donor to the campaign. 
  • On Oct. 3, 2015, President Schapiro announced that Northwestern alumni Patrick G. Ryan and Shirley W. Ryan made a new $25 million gift commitment to advance research and teaching at their alma mater. A portion of the gift, part of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, will be used to accelerate the creation of endowed professorships across the University. This gift brought the Ryans’ total contributions through the “We Will” Campaign to more than $100 million. It increased their total giving to Northwestern to nearly $200 million. Of the new gift, $10 million is being used for the Ryan Family Chair Challenge, to match gifts made by other Northwestern supporters to establish new endowed professorships, or chairs, across a wide range of disciplines. Through the challenge, a wider circle of potential benefactors than ever before can consider endowing a professorship in their name or in the name of someone they wish to honor. An endowed chair is one of the highest honors bestowed on a faculty member and a critical way to attract and retain top faculty. 
  • On Oct. 22, 2015, the University announced that Northwestern School of Law alumnus J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, made a $100 million gift that will significantly advance the mission and vision of Pritzker’s alma mater, one of the nation’s leading law schools. The 156-year-old school is now named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. The Pritzkers’ gift is the largest single gift ever to any law school. The game-changing gift will allow the best students, no matter what their socio-economic background, to get a legal education at one of the top law schools in the country. In addition, it simultaneously focuses on the advancement of the study of law, business and technology, and on public interest initiatives in the areas of civil and human rights. The funding will help support and advance the Pritzker School of Law’s strategy of developing new kinds of highly marketable lawyers -- creative, constructive problem-solvers armed with entrepreneurial and multidisciplinary skills, resolutely committed to social justice and the rule of law.

Northwestern experienced its most successful Giving Tuesday ever on Dec. 1, with 1,616 donors contributing $540,771 as part of the #CATSGiveBack campaign. The #CATSGiveBack effort was Northwestern’s movement to engage in Giving Tuesday, a global day of philanthropy held every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. 

During the 24-hour effort, donors designated their gifts for 115 different funds, supporting everything from scholarships to study abroad programs and helping to ensure that today’s students have the resources they need to pursue their goals. The number of donors who made a gift during #CATSGiveBack in 2015 represented a 129 percent increase over the prior year’s effort, while the total dollars donated increased 70 percent.

Also in fall 2015, Northwestern launched the annual Faculty and Staff Campaign. Faculty and staff contributions to any area of the University count toward the Faculty and Staff Campaign and We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern. Annual gifts from faculty and staff have a profound impact on Northwestern students -- funding scholarships and fellowships, supporting participation in campus activities and experiential learning opportunities, and enhancing the experience of all Northwestern students.

In 2013, Northwestern launched NU Loyal, a society recognizing individuals who have made gifts to Northwestern for three or more consecutive years. As of Aug. 31, 2015, the end of Northwestern’s fiscal year, 35,110 donors are now members of NU Loyal. This figure represents nearly 90 percent of the 40,000-member goal for NU Loyal.

A major key to the success of the “We Will” Campaign so far is the people driving it. Approximately 600 Campaign volunteers serve on a total of 28 committees, with each committee driving the efforts of a school, program or region to fund Northwestern’s strategic priorities. The volunteer network nearly doubled in size during the past fiscal year.

In the coming year, the Campaign also will build on that success by expanding the effort internationally, while deepening engagement with alumni, parents and friends in the U.S.

“Northwestern is making truly transformative decisions that will allow our University to be a force for positive change in the world. But we have much more to accomplish ahead,” said Neil G. Bluhm, Campaign co-chair, University trustee and alumnus of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

“Our University is a global leader in many of the most promising advances in journalism, engineering, law and business. Through the Campaign, our entire community of alumni, parents and friends is invited to join in helping Northwestern bring together the world’s most talented faculty and students in pushing forward the frontiers of understanding in these areas of strategic importance.”

In addition, the Campaign is being recognized increasingly for its achievements to date, including the award from CASE.

“CASE’s Educational Fundraising program honors exemplary fundraising programs and activities,” wrote CASE President Sue Cunningham in a letter of congratulations to President Schapiro on August 7 to mark the 2015 CASE award to Northwestern for “Overall Improvement” in fundraising.

“Your institution has not only demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism and best practice in its fundraising efforts,” she added, “it has contributed to the betterment of educational advancement worldwide.”

The funds raised through We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern will help realize the transformative vision set forth in Northwestern’s strategic plan and solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities. More information on the Campaign is available at wewill.northwestern.edu.

To see news stories featuring many of the transformative gifts made since the start of the “We Will” Campaign, go to the Special Feature page on the Campaign on the Northwestern Newscenter website.

Editor's Picks

Back to top