Dutch universities are eyeballing rich alumni

Dutch universities have a long way to go when it comes to fundraising from alumni. Still, they are working on it, reports the ‘Financieele Dagblad’. Including TU Delft.

In 2017, TU Delft closed new contracts for donations worth about EUR 1.7 million. (Image: Joe the Goat Farmer)

More and more Dutch universities are wending their way to wealthy alumni. This was the conclusion of the ‘Financieele Dagblad’ (FD, financial newspaper) after investigating fundraising in universities. That said, fundraising among alumni by universities in the Netherlands is nothing compared to that in the United States and Great Britain.

A decent education

Apart from government funding, Dutch universities receive funds from scientific funders, companies, ministries and the European Union. Another source of income is from fundraising. “The Government provides good, decent education, but not excellence,” says Margot van Sluis, Director of the Erasmus University alumni fund in the FD. Now that government funding is not matching the increase in student numbers, funds from alumni may be an answer for universities. Erasmus University Rotterdam is at the forefront and, in two years’ time, has received EUR 26 million from wealthy alumni. This has now increased to EUR 30 million.

Delft alumni

Students and alumni of TU Delft once managed to get EUR 150,000 together for a part-time chair in geothermal energy. Fundraising at TU Delft is in the hands of the University Fund. In 2017, TU Delft closed new contracts for donations worth about EUR 1.7 million. These were donations from alumni, private individuals, entities and companies.

Through this fund, alumni contributed to research into bacteriophages, the natural enemy of bacteria and a potential alternative to antibiotics. “These donations are being used to speed up research and build the first phage bank in the Netherlands,” explains Evelyne Esveld, Director of the Delft University Fund.

The University Fund is also funding educational development. “This includes the funding of a MOOC, scholarships, grants and awards,” says Esveld. There are also donations obtained through crowdfunding on for specific projects. “There are plenty of individual donors. This year, more than 1,500 individuals have already given a donation.” 

Meagre amounts

These amounts may sound big to Dutch ears, but they are meagre compared to those in the United States. The former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, recently broke the record with a donation of USD 1.8 million to his alma mater, the Johns Hopkins University.

HOP, Oscarine Vonk

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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