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Columbia College Fundraising

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Columbia College Fundraising

Philanthropic support is vital to the success of Columbia College. Contributions help meet the needs of students, offering them full-need financial aid, access to renowned faculty, support for internships and research opportunities, Core Curriculum programming and so much more.

The Columbia College Fund is central to the College’s fundraising efforts. Gifts to the College Fund are current-use, meaning the full amount is immediately available to be spent. Contributions to the College Fund can be unrestricted, so they can be used where they are needed most, or directed to the Core Curriculum, financial aid, internships or student life.

Endowed funds are also important to the financial health of the College, providing a reliable source of income in perpetuity. Gifts are invested, and the accumulated appreciation and income is used to fund an annual distribution, which must be spent for the fund’s intended purpose. Combined with the College Fund, this support helps the College meet the needs of students each year.

The below addresses common questions about Columbia’s endowment and why the College Fund is essential to the College’s successful operations. Please contact ccfund@columbia.edu if you have any additional questions

Why is the College consistently fundraising every year?

  • The College must raise more than $18 million every year through the Columbia College Fund. These funds have already been allocated in the College’s operating budget, for core needs like financial aid and student programming. The money we raise today not only supports these ongoing needs but also positions the College to withstand financial challenges that may arise throughout the year.

Why does Columbia need my support? Doesn’t it have a $10 billion endowment?

  • The University endowment is significant, although the College receives an allocation of less than 10% of the value — as the University has 16 schools and other institutes. The College receives a distribution of 5% interest per year from its portion of the endowment, which is not enough to cover all operating costs and our commitment to financial aid, in part because tuition income is also used in other areas. As a result, the College Fund provides the funding necessary to cover the remaining expenses needed to support our students and their needs

Why can’t the College use its portion of the endowment to cover a budget shortfall?

  • The majority of endowed funds are restricted and must be spent in accordance with a donor’s intentions. For example, if a donor makes an endowed gift to support a faculty position, the College must uphold donor intent and may not use this gift for expenses unrelated to the intent. Alternatively, unrestricted gifts to the College Fund allow the College to address costs as needed.

Why can’t the principal of the endowment be spent?

  • The purpose of the endowment is the same as any invested fund: to provide sustainable support over the long-term, and in many cases, for specific initiatives or programs. It is not a general reserve or “slush fund”; rather, it ensures the long-term health and security of the University. While the Trustees have the power to choose to draw additional funds from the endowment to address extraordinary challenges, subject to donor consent, funds cannot be taken without limitation. To do so would sacrifice the institution’s future security.

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Columbia College Fund

The Columbia College Fund provides essential resources for financial aid, student services and the Core Curriculum - all fundamental aspects of the first-rate undergraduate experience that defines Columbia College. Each dollar given to the College Fund translates into immediate support for the College's most pressing areas of need.

Core to Commencement
Core to Commencement Campaign

Nearly 100 years ago, Columbia College altered the landscape of American higher education with a pioneering experiment now known as the Core Curriculum. We are drawing up a blueprint for the future that reinforces our foundations and raises our sights even higher. Emboldened by great books, inspired by culture, united by diversity and stirred by big ideas, we are posted to build a better Columbia and with it, a better world.