Penn State: Fundraising Troubles

Penn State worries that sexual abuse scandal the school has been fielding for a week may have an adverse effect on institutional fundraising.

Well, yes, one certainly hopes.

According to an article by Mark Guarino in the Christian Science Monitor:

Penn State’s athletic program is certainly expected to take a hit. This week, Forbes estimated that the football program, valued at $99 million, will lose $10 million in sponsorships and donations. Moreover, the university’s endowment – often seen as a measure of a school’s brand value – may also be at risk, especially since the scandal is taking place in the middle of a $2 billion fundraising campaign that ends in two years.

But the scandal could slow the flow of money. The university’s seven-year capital campaign, designed primarily to fund undergraduate and graduate student scholarships, has hit 72 percent of its $2 billion target, the university reports. Banking the remaining 28 percent may present a significant challenge.

Raising money in the midst of dealing with a scandal isn’t impossible.

Around the time SUNY Binghamton administration collapsed last year due to a scandal involving the varsity basketball team the school actually managed to raise $5 million more than it originally planned. Binghamton did this, according to President Peter Magrath, through “honesty, being transparent, and answering all the questions.”

Then again, the nature of the scandal was a little different. Binghamton, in an effort to build a top-notch varsity basketball team, apparently admitted unqualified students and pressured teachers to give basketball players high grades they didn’t earn.

In the case of Penn State, however, the school is accused of covering up a situation in which an assistant football coach, over a period of 15 years, molested at least 8 underage boys. The Penn State scandal is much, much worse.

It appears “honesty, being transparent, and answering all the questions” might not be enough here to facilitate alumni giving.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer