Despite a troubled economy and plans to reduce expenditures at the College, recent figures of year-to-date annual giving suggest that the College is on target to meet its budgeted levels for this fiscal year's operating budget.

"We are holding our own quite well, and we are cautiously optimistic about where we stand relative to fund-raising in this fiscal year. We're behind, but not behind so significantly that we don't think we'll hit our budgeted targets," Senior Vice President for Planning & Development and Secretary of the College Bill Torrey said.

Total giving, which Torrey said "includes gifts for endowment, building projects, and other fund-raising objectives here at Bowdoin," is down 10 percent compared to a year ago. On December 31, 2007, total giving amounted to $29,160,250, while on December 31, 2008, the number was at $26,240,566—a difference of $2,919,684.

Total annual giving, which includes gifts to the Alumni Fund, Parents Fund, Polar Bear Athletic Fund, and Friends of the College Fund, is down 12 percent. Annual giving was at $4,746,922 on Dec 31, 2007, and only stood at $4,195,747 on Dec 31, 2008—a difference of $551,175.

However, despite falling short relative to a year ago, Torrey said it doesn't imply that "we won't necessarily hit our budgeted target for annual giving."

The College has budgeted an annual giving target of $7,475,000 for the 2009 fiscal year, according to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley. This amount supports 6 percent of the College's operating expenses, which are around $125,000,000.

Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster said that this annual giving is "critical," due to the fact that "those gifts go directly into the operating budget."

The budgeted target is lower than the actual fund-raising goal set, in order to "be conservative and give us some flexibility," Torrey said. Thus, he said, if trends in giving continue, the sum may fall short of the fund-raising goal, but still meet its budgeted target.

"As long as we hit our unrestricted giving budgeting number, we will cover our operating costs, and we will fund the things we have in our budget—financial aid, salaries, and everything else," said Torrey.

According to the Bowdoin Campaign Web site, funds from annual giving create "vital support for the College's academic program, financial aid, and extracurricular activities, providing an important margin of excellence beyond what is possible from tuition and endowment income alone."

Torrey also commented on the status of the Campaign, a five-year operation running from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2009, stating that the College, as of December 31, 2008, is at $243,500,000 in commitments towards the $250,000,000 goal.

"We expect to hit our goal...The campaign is on track to be the most successful Bowdoin's had. It has helped to transform the place and greatly strengthen it," he said.

Acknowledging economic hardship, Torrey said fund-raising is harder now as "people are hurting," but that the College is working hard to maintain annual giving. Torrey said he hasn't felt the need to stimulate giving with more desperate pleas yet.

"We've tended to make our appeals similar to what we've always done, appealing to people's highest aspirations for the College, not pushing a panic button. We've felt that at this point in time, that's the best way to ask Bowdoin alumni for support. You can only push the panic button once, and at this point in time, we don't need to do," he said.

Therefore, Torrey said he is committed to the fund-raising goals of the College.

"We want to keep the place where it is academically, we want to maintain financial aid where it is for today's students, we want to maintain the upkeep and quality of buildings we build, and in order for those things to happen, we need support. But we also realize that it is very difficult, and in terms of very large commitments, people may not be ready at this point," he said.

Torrey observed that it's difficult to secure large gifts of $100,000 or more, as they tend to involve gifts of people's capital and appreciated securities. He said the College has seen fewer "planned gifts," typically gift annuities or the creation of charitable trusts, because they are complicated, involve tax issues, and require asset appreciation, which isn't happening today.

"You tend to see smaller gifts, cash gifts of checks or credit cards, and fewer gifts of appreciated securities," he said. While capital gifts are harder to obtain, people are "not falling significantly behind in the commitments they've made to the College," through pledges or annual gifts, he added.

Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Eric Foushee said that with the economy as it is, a decrease in annual giving from alumni is to be expected.

"In short, yes, with the economic downturn we were bracing for a difficult year. I will say that...all the NESCAC schools and our comparison schools are tracking relatively the same...We're pretty consistent with most of the schools," he said.

However, Foushee said that he's not hearing many alumni say they have to suspend their annual gift because of their financial situation; rather, they are adjusting their pledges or gifts to scale back.

He added that "Bowdoin alums are fiercely loyal to the place," and although annual giving is down by 12 percent in comparison to a year ago, there have been about 300 more donors so far. He said he is encouraged by the additional donors making pledges for later gifts, noting that in today's economy, people just want to hold on to their cash as long as possible.

Looking ahead with these economic conditions in consideration, the College's financial planning model, used in President Barry Mills' memo to the College community, budgets annual giving to remain at its current level in the 2010 fiscal year, with modest increases in the following years.

Provided that the budget has traditionally accounted for a two or three percent increase in giving each year, Foushee said the model's plan for growth sounds realistic. He said he anticipates a tougher year next year, thereby justifying a zero percent increase in annual giving, before returning to times of growth.

At this point, however, Torrey said that, all things considered, "we're lucky to be where we are."

"I think the College has been really responsible in terms of its financial planning, and that's paying off for us now. We've got a great president, he's done what he needed to do to prepare for the good times and the bad," said Torrey. "The College is as well prepared as we could possibly be to withstand this financial storm."