FAQs - Inspire Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University


What is endowment, and how does it work?

Endowment is the permanent capital of a university. Endowment refers to assets that are invested in perpetuity, unlike expendable funds, which are typically used for immediate needs. While the endowment principal remains in tact, annually a portion of the income is made available to the university. Therefore, by building the endowment, Carnegie Mellon has a greater ability to pay for its operating expenses. A larger endowment provides the university with greater flexibility in launching new projects or initiatives as well as in providing greater support to faculty and students.

A common misconception about a university’s endowment is that it is one “pot” of money with which the university can do what it wishes. Endowments are comprised of many separate funds, which are managed as a pool of assets. Donors set stipulations for funds and for what purpose the income may be spent.

What is current use or “expendable” support?

Current use or “expendable” gifts are used immediately by the university to meet existing needs.

Why is it important to support Carnegie Mellon now?

The only way we can realize the full potential of the amazing trajectory we are on is to invest in our intellectual and financial sustainability now. The single most important challenge facing Carnegie Mellon University today is a lack of resources, especially our endowment. When it comes to recruiting and retaining the best faculty and students, the size of our endowment, relative to our peers, puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Our closest competitors have 3 or 4 times the amount of endowment per full-time student than we do.

The impact of donors here far exceeds what they could have elsewhere because we choose to focus on areas where we have a comparative and competitive advantage — areas where we are poised to lead. This campaign ensures that Carnegie Mellon will continue to be the place where this kind of visionary work happens. Carnegie Mellon's ability to innovate and its ability to educate students — in a way that perhaps no other university can — is perhaps now more important than ever to our world.

How will my $100 help the campaign?

This fundraising campaign is about building a network of people who strongly value the essential role that Carnegie Mellon plays in the world and who are willing to work together to propel our progress in discovery and innovation.  The participation of many people is essential to our success in this campaign. Expendable Gifts of $50 or $100 to a school or college’s annual fund help to ensure the overall excellence of those programs. A gift of a couple of thousand dollars may provide money for a student to present research at a conference; or for a faculty member to create a work of art; or for the library to invest in new resources. An endowed gift of $1.25 million may create a faculty chair that jump-starts a new path of education and research. Donors can create a gift that is meaningful to them at any level. All gifts make a difference to Carnegie Mellon and that makes a difference in the world.

How long will this fundraising campaign last?

Donors can commit to or provide a gift until June 30, 2013.

What if I am interested in supporting a specific area of education and research?

Carnegie Mellon has identified student support, faculty support, leadership support and facilities support as top priorities. Within each of these areas, there are opportunities for endowed or current-use gifts, and donors can designate their gifts to projects and initiatives that are defined by the university, its colleges and departments.

The best way to find out about specific projects and initiatives that are underway in an area of interest to you is to speak directly with a campaign staff representative. You can also learn more about key programs in education and research through the Web site and other university publications such as Carnegie Mellon Today magazine.