Caption: Grace Han PhD ’15 conducts research on organic solar thermal fuels in a materials science and engineering lab. The Campaign for a Better World will fund a wide range of research at MIT.
Capital campaigns are important rites of passage for many nonprofits because they help sustain day-to-day activities while building for the future. MIT, which in May announced its $5 billion MIT Campaign for a Better World, aims even higher: to support a healthy future for the Institute and for the world.
At MIT, we focus on inventing the future,” says President L. Rafael Reif. “Since MIT was founded to help a young nation seize its future as an industrial powerhouse, the people of MIT have been busy solving hard problems and answering big questions, and they have left society transformed. Today, everyone at MIT is hacking societal problems. And we see humanity’s pressing global challenges as invitations to action.”
Support for the campaign is strong, says MIT Corporation chair Robert B. Millard ’73. “The MIT Corporation is deeply committed to a robust future for MIT. This campaign is designed to make sure that MIT continues as one of the greatest educational and research enterprises humanity has ever produced,” says Millard. “And we want MIT to be known as a force for good, an inventor of solutions to difficult problems, and a launching pad for people who work for the betterment of humankind.”
Early results are positive. In the March quarterly report detailing pre-launch giving, Resource Development reported that campaign gifts totaled $2.6 billion—more than half the goal. Campaign activities are planned for at least five years. All gifts to the Institute will be counted in the total, and bequests that meet specific criteria will also count.
All alumni have an opportunity to support this vision and make a positive impact. Participation from alumni at all levels is a significant focus—as is boosting the unrestricted contributions that allow the Institute to meet urgent needs and respond nimbly to emerging opportunities.
“Every day, MIT makes major contributions toward solving the world’s greatest challenges,” says Robert Scalea ’77, chair of the Annual Fund Board. “Through continuous innovation, the Institute is improving the quality of our lives and those of generations to come. Each of us who has benefited from MIT has a responsibility in this campaign. I encourage all alumni to make a gift every year, so that together we can ensure the Institute has the financial strength to reach new heights in education, basic science research, and transformational research—and unleash this powerful force for good.”
The announcement of the public phase of the Campaign for a Better World coincided with Moving Day events celebrating the centennial of MIT’s arrival in Cambridge. Starting this fall, MIT will take the campaign on the road with events for alumni in New York on October 20, 2016, San Francisco on November 2, 2016, and more locales worldwide.
This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of MIT Technology Review magazine.