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University of Exeter fundraising campaign hits target a year early

University of Exeter fundraising campaign hits target a year early

The University of Exeter has reached the £60m target of a major fundraising campaign a year ahead of schedule.

In 2012, the University of Exeter set itself a goal of raising £60 million by the end of 2020 to support key areas. Called Making the Exceptional Happen, it is the most ambitious fundraising campaign the University has ever embarked on, with a target of almost three times the amount raised previously.

The ‘Making the Exceptional Happen’ campaign targeted alumni as well as other supporters and included a mixture of activity including face to face meetings and events, digital, film, and a telethon that saw 50 students speak to hundreds of alumni, 460 of whom pledged a donation, raising more than £135,000. The university has also received a number of significant donations, including the largest single gift received by Exeter – £10 million from the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation for medical research. Many alumni have also chosen to give each month to a cause they are passionate about.



The campaign target was reached on 5 February with a £225,000 donation from Santander Universities to support student entrepreneurship and widening participation at Exeter.

The money raised is to fund research into diseases such as dementia, diabetes and cancer; seek solutions to environmental problems like climate change, plastic pollution and food security; and to understand economic, social and political dynamics across the world.

It has also supported students to both attend Exeter and during their time at university. Bursaries and scholarships have enabled students to continue their education regardless of their financial background, while sports facilities and student societies have also benefited from funding.

Thousands of hours have also been volunteered. The campaign originally aimed to achieve 60,000 volunteering hours by 2020, but has reached over 85,000 so far.

Through these hours, students have benefitted from careers talks, more than 2,000 have received mentoring partnerships lasting between 6 and 12 months, and another 1,500+ student career questions have been answered by email. It also includes 2,500 working days of strategic advice given to University staff.

Many Exeter alumni choose to volunteer by taking part in the University’s Career Mentor Scheme. The scheme brings students together with experienced professionals who provide invaluable insight and advice on their career for up to six months.

Gerry Brown, Exeter alumnus and Chair of the Campaign Board said:

“We always knew it would be a challenge to reach this fundraising goal, so to do so early is particularly gratifying.

“The research we do at Exeter makes a huge difference to people lives, both locally and throughout the world, and it’s wonderful that people recognise the importance of this work and feel inspired to help us do even more.

“Obviously our fundraising does not end as there are many challenges our researchers are working on continuously, particularly given the climate emergency, but this is a great milestone to have reached and I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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