–By Todd Ellenberg MS ’91
In this issue of SOAR, we spoke with FIU Foundation CEO Howard Lipman on the growth of the FIU Foundation and its pivotal role in advancing the university’s progress.
How has the FIU Foundation evolved since Next Horizon was launched, and how has it been instrumental to the campaign’s success?
The Next Horizon campaign is FIU’s comprehensive campaign – and we were able to expand our team and capacity in support of our efforts to exceed $750 million.
We aligned our philanthropic goals with the university’s goal to be recognized as a top 50 public university. We obsess on impact. Our growth as a university foundation has been instrumental to advance toward this institutional measure and made possible our current ability to raise $114 million in 2021. Fundraising has grown more than 800% since 2010, and our endowment has grown nearly 300% to a total of $276 million.
How is the Foundation now positioned to power FIU’s next phase of excellence as one of the nation’s top public research universities?
Since the FIU Foundation was founded in 1969, our purpose has always been to support the development and impact of FIU as a major driver of educational, cultural, and economic well-being. At the same time, in more recent years, we have aspired and are taking steps to become a leading public university foundation in the country.
As we have grown and matured, we have broadened our scope. For instance, last year, we established the FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy to address the core values of diversity, equity and inclusion, which are playing an increasingly prominent role in philanthropy. These efforts support the university’s Equity Action Initiative, which was launched in the summer of 2020.
We’re also growing our capacity through alternative revenue streams, such as venture capital philanthropy and social impact bonds, and will be leveraging the enormous potential of the Miami Tech movement.
Where do you see the Foundation’s role in further engaging alumni?
Our alumni are an essential part of our FIU – yesterday, today and tomorrow – and their participation matters at every level. In conjunction with the FIU Alumni Association, we are taking comprehensive steps to further engage our alumni family of 275,000 Panthers in our next phase of progress.
We conducted a survey of our alumni to learn about their perceptions of FIU and what will add value to their alumni experience. We heard you: 85% of respondents said they are proud to be FIU alumni. With our survey information in hand, we plan to develop programming and activities that will better serve them as well as communications that celebrate their achievements. We are committed to our Panther family!