Carleton University alum donates $10m to Business School

Carleton University graduate Wesley Nicol was last week announced to be making a donation to the University’s Sprott School of Business. Nicol graduated from the institution with a BA in 1954.

His donation is to be directed towards the building of a new facility to house the business school.

As with all high-capacity alumni, Nicol would have automatically been a high-value prospect for his school. What made him much more likely than others to actually make a gift though are his relationships. A quick connections report from Prospect Visual reveals that he is connected to several constituents of the school at Board, Trustee and Senior Executive level.

Nicol - Carleton

Oculus CEO says Mark Zuckerberg helped influence $31m donation to UMD

“When we met Mark Zuckerberg, and he committed to the vision, this kind of sequence of events started and we found ourselves back on University of Maryland for a hackathon,”

Brendan Iribe, CEO, Oculus

It was announced on Thursday that Oculus CEO, Brendan Iribe was to donate $31 million to his alma mater, the University of Maryland.

Iribe has stated his desire to contribute to the public school system in Maryland, where he grew up, however it’s clear from the quote above that the meeting with Zuckerberg was an important catalyst in making the gift. Our team was pretty excited to see this in the news, but not surprised. After all, as our regular readers will know, we’ve firm believers in the power of peer influence when it comes to philanthropy.

If you’re a University or a Nonprofit, the best way to take advantage of this is to use a relationship mapping service to make sure you are fully aware of your constituents and existing donors’ relationships. Understanding who you have the potential to reach through them can help you focus on identifying high-value prospects with whom you can gain a peer introduction.

Hong Kong billionaire donates $20m to a US University

This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that Hong Kong billionaire Ronnie Chan was to donate $20 million to the University of Southern California’s occupational science and therapy program.

If you’re feeling a some deja vu reading that headline, it might be because it comes less than two weeks after Chan’s brother Gerald Chan made the news by making a $350 million gift to Harvard University.

Ronnie Chan said in a statement, “”I am grateful for the opportunities that USC afforded me and my sons, and our gift to the division is one of several ways we intend to continue supporting USC in the future.”

It’s clear both brothers are dedicated to the schools whom they credit with helping them get where they are. As we hear more of international donations such as these, it’s becoming more and more apparent that universities need to ensure that they make a strong effort to maintain relationships with alumni in foreign countries to make certain that they don’t lose track of a fertile pool of prospects.

Why Patricia Ring’s estate donated $1M to the University of Memphis

Yesterday it was announced in the Memphis Business Journal that the estate of Patricia T. Ring, wife of the late Bob Ring, was to make a $1 million donation to the University of Memphis.

As regular readers will know, we love to look into the relationships behind philanthropic donations. Let’s start with Patricia Ring, who also passed away earlier this year. Her relationship with the school is evident in the fact that in January, the University of Memphis and Ring established the Ring Companies Chair which is to be awarded to distinguished scholars and teachers at UM’s engineering department.

Bob Ring, in whose honor this most recent gift was made was the founder of Ring Container Technologies, and his son Carl explained that ““For four decades, Ring Container Technologies has benefited from the support of the faculty, staff and graduates of the Herff College.” Carl Ring’s comments reveal that, aside from a rapport with the Ring family itself, the company also has close ties to the school.

A quick connections report run through Prospect Visual confirmed this by showing that the CFO and Executive Vice President of Ring Container Technologies, Tim Whalen, also has some strong connections to UM constituents through mutual roles at International Paper Co.

Ring Cos - UM

All this shows how important it is for universities to build and nurture relationships within their community. When connections such as these turn into the kind of relationship that the Ring family and Ring Cos. have with an institution, generous support and patronage becomes a natural part of the process.

Harvard receives record $350m gift from Hong Kong businessman, Gerald Chan

This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hong Kong based businessman and investor, Gerald L Chan was to donate $350 million to his alma mater, Harvard University. The gift is record-breaking – the largest single donation the University has ever received.

Chan, a director at Hong Kong based Hang Lung Group, is 17th on Forbes’ list of Hong Kong’s 50 most wealthy individuals. He attended Harvard in the 1970s and pursued graduate work in radiological physics and radiobiology. His gift has been directed specifically towards the School of Public Health because he was inspired by one of his teacher’s there and wants to help the school to conduct cutting-edge medical research.

Alumni donations are something every school looks for, but large donations such as this often seem to occur when there are relationships to help solidify the connection between an alumnus and their alma mater. We ran a quick connections report in Prospect Visual to see if this proved to be the case with Chan and Harvard and were unsurprised to find that there were several strong board-level connections shows.

Chan - Harvard

Harvard is also ensuring that their relationship with Chan will only strengthen in future by re-naming the school of public health into the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health after Gerald Chan’s father.

Bill Gatton continues unwavering support for University of Kentucky with $20m gift

Yesterday the University of Kentucky announced that they had received yet another sizeable gift from their biggest donor Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton. Gatton’s latest gift is for $2o million and is to be directed towards the renovation of the school’s Student Center.

University Presidentm Eli Capilouto praised Gatton’s efforts in supporting UK,  “Bill Gatton’s unwavering support for the University of Kentucky has had a profound impact on the students, faculty and staff on campus, and on higher education in the commonwealth.”

And it’s not hard to see why he’s so grateful. Gatton has donated over $45 million to the University of Kentucky over time and has become the University of Kentucky’s largest single donor in history. So why is he so generous towards this school?

Well to start with, Gatton is a UK graduate, which we have shown in our previous posts, makes him a great prospect for the school. He also has a history of giving to other educational institutions. But why are his donations to UK particularly great? Well, he attests much of his success in business to his alma mater and as such it’s clear that he has a great attachment to it. It’s also clear that he has a great current relationship with his school – evident in the fact that School of Business is named after him.

A quick look at a relationship map from Prospect Visual confirms this – showing that he has many board-level connections with the University of Kentucky. These relationships, together with Gatton’s propensity for educational philanthropy means that his patronage of the school is entirely unsurprising,


CMGatton - UK

Land O’Lakes announces $25M gift to University of Minnesota

Earlier this week it was announced that the University of Minnesota was to be the beneficiary of a $25 million gift donation made by Land O’Lakes, a member-owned agricultural cooperative based Minnesota.

“Meaningful partnerships with Minnesota businesses are vital to the success of our students and the state’s economic future,” said Eric Kaler, President of the University of Minnesota in a joint statement by the University and Land O’Lakes on Monday.

According to the same statement, this donation is the largest that Land O’Lakes has ever made. So why did they do it?

President and CEO Christopher Policinski has explained that his company are committed to educational excellence. However corporate donations to higher education institutions are always sought after and organizations often make investments into education – so what makes a corporation decide to donate to a particular school?

The clue is in the relationship chart provided by Prospect Visual. It shows that there are many high ranking individuals at the school and the company who are connected to each other. Relationships form the backbone of nonprofits and it’s relationships such as these that allow schools to have the influence to ensure that major gifts are directed towards their institutions.

LoL - UM

Who helped University of Hawaii on their way to reach a record $98.6m in donations?

Last week it emerged that the University of Hawaii Foundation had ended their fiscal year on June 30th, with a fundraising record of $98.6 million in gifts and donations.

Just under half those gifts are to be directed towards research programs at UH with student aid and faculty and academic support being the next greatest beneficiaries.

Where did these donations come from?

About 60% of the donations made to the University came from local Hawaii individuals, businesses and grants, demonstrating the UH Foundation’s success in developing strong links within their community. However a particularly large donation –  a $40 million gift to marine life studies – came from the Simons Foundation, based in New York.

Wondering how UH earned their patronage? A clue can be provided by the Prospect Visual map below which shows that several members of the UH Foundation Board have strong connections to one very important contact – the philanthropist James Harris Simons, chairman of the Simons Foundation. Proof once again of the importance of relationships







Broad Institute gets another $650m from Ted Stanley – what makes this donor keep on giving?

Last month it was announced that the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard had received yet another substantial gift – $650 million to be exact – from Theodore (Ted) Stanley. Stanley and his wife have been frequent donors to the Institute and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research named in their honor, is a tribute to that fact. This latest gift is generous, even within that context – being one of the largest private gifts ever made towards scientific research

So why have the Stanleys been so generous towards Broad? 

It all starts with their son. Ten years ago Jonathan Stanley was diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder. Though it took several years, Jonathan Stanley eventually came to control his illness through medication. The experience has clearly marked the entire family who, in addition to their frequent donations to mental illness research, are also responsible for starting the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

However though the Stanleys had a history of supporting mental illness facilities with small donations through their foundation it was not until they met Edward Scolnick that their giving took on such vast heights. Scolnick convinced the couple that it would take much larger sums to truly make a difference. The struck a deal that involved the Stanleys donating $100m over 10 years – and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research was born with Edward Scolnick as its director.

In the end, it all comes down to one relationship.

This story reveals just how powerful a personal relationship can be. The Stanleys were philanthropists and they had a cause they cared about due to their personal experience. But their major giving only began after they struck up a relationship with one man – Edward Scolnick. It is thus not surprising that the Broad Institute continues to enjoy the patronage of Ted Stanley and his wife, whilst their long-time friend Scolnick remains a prominent figure there.


GM donates a Chevy Malibu to University of Central Missouri

The University of Central Missouri received an unusual yet highly appropriate gift from the General Motor Company. The vehicle industry giant donated a white Chevy Malibu to the University’s Automotive Training program.

Why UCM?

GM believes that there is a critical need within the sector for the training, development and retention of skilled managers and UCM’s program  helps respond to that need. However though this is the only such program in the state, there are others across the country who could certainly benefit from GM’s patronage. So why UCM?

A quick look at this relationship report from Prospect Visual reveals that Senior Executives from GM have several strong connections to high-ranking constituents at UCM. This clearly suggests that cultivating relationships with potential donor organizations can be an extremely fruitful exercise for fundraising teams.