UAlberta releases case for philanthropic support

(Edmonton) On Nov. 15, Canada’s first ever National Philanthropy Day, the University of Alberta released its Case for Support, an initiative to increase targeted donations in support of its strategic fundraising priorities.

Titled “Together We Can,” the Case for Support outlines priority investment areas that will advance the university’s leadership in areas of significant global interest, including water research, nanotechnology and digital online learning.

“Philanthropy is a key enabler of our success,” said President Indira Samarasekera. “Donations provide funds to launch new fields of research, ensure access for students regardless of their economic background, and advance innovation and education that will improve Alberta, Canada and the world. The University of Alberta is a global leader—philanthropy provides the margin of excellence that gets and keeps us there.”

Development of the case was led by the Office of Advancement, an area of increasing focus for the university. The newly appointed vice-president of advancement, O’Neil Outar, is encouraged that the case will sharpen the focus of academic leadership and prospective donors in preparation for a fundraising campaign three to five years from now.

“Philanthropists are problem solvers, as are our faculty and students,” said Outar. “The university is tackling large-scale, global, interdisciplinary and complex problems. Philanthropic support can provide the dollars needed to engage in high-risk research, curriculum and teaching innovation, and student and community engagement.”

The Case for Support is built from the cornerstones of the university’s strategic and academic plans, and demonstrates the role for giving in advancing the institution’s highest academic priorities:

  • recruit talented students and faculty
  • advance learning, discovery and citizenship
  • connect communities—locally and globally
  • provide a transformative university experience

The case also outlines how philanthropy was critical to the success of the Edmonton Protocol, a revolutionary treatment for diabetes that is now helping millions of people around the world. The research team had lost some critical funding, yet the dean at the time was able to turn to a fund supported by donors to keep the team together so they could make their breakthrough.

The release of the case follows a year of record fundraising for the University of Alberta. A total of $162.7 million in philanthropic support was recorded in fiscal 2011–2012, and gifts came from a record number of nearly 20,000 alumni and individual donors.

“Whether through programs that more fully prepare students for the realities of being a global citizen, or the breakthroughs that philanthropy has enabled, the generosity of donors has a direct impact on the university, providing the funds necessary to build a foundation of excellence and the talent to achieve it,” added Outar.