New England College launched the plan for its first ever capital campaign in 2010. A capital campaign is an initiative by a non-profit institution to raise a great deal of money for something big. This money is not only to be used for annual operations for the school year. Also, like the restricted funds that are included in the endowment (a college’s bank account), the money put into this “bank” can be spent on specific projects, usually directed by the donor, for new buildings or a scholarship fund.
The campaign was in its “quiet phase” from 2010 until January 2018, when a goal of $37 million was announced. New England College decided that amount would be enough to fund and complete projects. Now in April of 2019, NEC has already received $39 million in pledges and gifts for the capital campaign.
“Even though it has been a lot of work, it has been some of the most fulfilling work of my career; to see these structures, these funds, all come to New England College. The college is in the best place financially it has ever been, including record enrollment, at a time when many colleges are struggling to get undergraduates to campus, but we’re not having this problem,” President Michele Perkins said, adding that she expects to hit the $40 million mark.
When President Perkins and her team first started visiting possible donors, it was quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be easy to get people to donate, especially in such large amounts of money. “For every four people you ask to donate, you usually get about one person,” said Perkins.
Although most of the donations were from alumni, not all were. Some gifts were donated by the public, and some came from families of undergraduate students currently enrolled at the college.
“One of my most important goals as president is thinking about the future and where we will be in five to ten years from now. The work we’re doing now will ensure New England College’s strength, prestige, and perpetuation, and that is very satisfying to realize.”
So far NEC has received at least seven $1 million-plus gifts. A $2.5 million donation was recently given for the support of online learning, along with a $3 million theatre gift, another $2 million for the theatre, and a $1 million challenge match gift, which is almost met.
When the Simon Center was built in 1994, NEC received its first $1 million-plus donation ($3 million). That’s what makes this campaign so important, it is a huge step in a positive direction for the college’s future.
“We are grateful for every gift, from five dollars to five million dollars, it’s a gift and gifts are a sign of generosity, and they’re not required, they’re voluntary; it’s important to show gratitude and keep in touch and communicate and honor those people,” said Perkins.
After learning about this donated money, you begin to question where it is all going. The capital campaign is mainly for the two new buildings that have been or will be added to the campus. The first building was the John Lyons Center, which is already in use for college classes. The second building is the Putnam Center, a new theatre, which is in the process of being built and should be ready for operations in the fall of 2019. There will be an addendum to the campaign, starting in 2020, to build a new athletic center.
President Perkins said that NEC already has some generous verbal commitments towards the new athletic center, and the college is already in the planning phases of what the athletic center will look like. The existing athletic buildings on campus will be renovated, and the addition of a new gym is expected.
“I majored in theatre, and there’s a saying in the theatre, “there are no small parts only small actors.” I think the same way here, everyone is an important “actor” in this project, and hopefully we can continue to build enthusiasm.”