Bringing NJIT to the NEXT level

The campus development fundraising campaign for $150M

What do establishing scholarship funds, attracting top-notch faculty, and constructing campus infrastructure have in common?
They are all very expensive projects the $150 million NJIT NEXT campaign seeks to fund.

NJIT’s Development Office handles private sector fundraising, seeking the partnership of corporations, groups or friends of the college who have an interest in helping to develop NJIT.

Aside from its yearly fundraising goals, the last major fundraising campaign put forth by the Development Office was during the 90s. Since then, they have been planning for NEXT. “You always have to be in campaign mode,” says Jacquelyn Rhodes, Associate Vice President for Development. “You’re either in a campaign or preparing for the next one. That’s the mentality we have to have.”

The NEXT campaign just went public in January. “This is where we get around 65% of our goal. Once you announce you’re public… it puts you in different mindset, is a lot more engaging, and sends a message of a lot more urgency.” The office finds ways to create excitement for a campaign that is not found during the ordinary scheme regular fundraising. As of now, the campaign has brought in approximately $109 million in actual funds and pledges, almost 73% of its goal.

NEXT is dubbed a “comprehensive campaign” because its goals target all aspects of NJIT, not just specific areas. NJIT seeks to establish endowed scholarships, to continue building next-generation campus with new labs and facilities, and to establish endowed chairs and professorships. “In order to attract the best students, we need to have the best faculty.”

The most important part to fundraising is, of course, building and maintaining relationships with potential donors. “At end of 90s campaign, it was up to us to maintain the friends we’d gotten money from or formed relationships with to get them to continue their support, as well as to identify new prospects.”

Much of successful fundraising comes through upper level administrators, such as President Bloom, who have many contacts politically and within the private sector. “We work very closely with him, getting him out there to meet people and bring them to campus. Marketing our students is very important because you are the reason people are supporting the university”.

The Development Office also works closely with CDS to contact companies that hire NJIT students, who are interested in offering scholarship support because “we are fulfilling their future needs” by training future members of their workforce. “Not everyone is going to work for IBM – we need to look at businesses and companies of all different sizes whom our students are going to benefit from.”
Alumni are another major source of donations. It is especially important to bring alumni back to campus, such as through Reunion Weekend, so they can see the positive changes that have taken place at their alma mater. Many alumni did not even have dorms on campus during their time.

“We’re just making it fun to be part of the university. A lot of alumni haven’t been back on campus since they left. It means a lot when they come back and see the changes on campus. We’ve changed and made a lot of progress through the years… many alumni express appreciation for what’s going on in the university.”

“We want to give visibility to our donors. They are making significant investments in us.” Through special recognition awards, scholarship brunches where donors can meet the recipients of their funds, naming opportunities for new buildings, and more, the Development Office continues to (seek) new ways of attracting and retaining donors for NJIT. “We are the cheerleaders of the university.”

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