Fund-raising for the College began at the first meeting of the Corporation in 1765, when the members present subscribed $1,992. In November 1766 Morgan Edwards was authorized to go to Europe to solicit benefactions and returned in 1768, having collected about $4,300. Hezekiah Smith was sent to the South in 1769 and 1770 and collected about $1,700. Again in 1774 the Corporation planned another solicitation, appointing David Howell to go to Europe and William Rogers to the South. However, both declined their appointments. A letter to the French king the same year, asking him to patronize the College, was forwarded to Benjamin Franklin in France, but was never presented to the king.
One popular way of raising money was a lottery, and an item in the Newport Mercury for September 28 to October 5, 1767 announced that the General Assembly of the Colony of Rhode Island had approved a lottery to raise 150 pounds lawful money “to be applied toward finishing the Parsonage House belonging to the Baptist Church in Warren, and rendering it commodious for the Reception of the Pupils who are, or shall be, placed there for a liberal Education.” Another lottery for the benefit of the College held in 1798 paid out $8,000 and brought in $33,548.50. President Manning thought about an international lottery in 1772 when he wrote to an English friend to inquire if a lottery to raise one or two thousand pounds would meet with encouragement in England. His correspondent’s reply was, “we have our fill of these cursed gambling Lotteries in London every Year they are big with ten thousand Evils. Let the Devils Children have them all to themselves.” The Corporation decided instead to return to soliciting funds in England, and began by awarding degrees to a number of English clergymen in 1773 and 1774.
After President Francis Wayland complained of the inadequacy of the library, the Corporation in 1831 undertook a bold plan to raise $25,000 for the purchase of books and scientific apparatus. The campaign brought in $19,437.50, which was put at interest until it grew to $25,000, which was then invested, and by 1839 supplied an income for books and apparatus. In 1836 a committee of the Corporation was appointed to raise funds for a building for instruction in the sciences. Two years later only $2,500 had been raised. In March 1839 Nicholas Brown 1786 announced that he would subscribe $10,000 for the science building and a new president’s house, provided the same amount should be subscribed before May 1. The citizens of Rhode Island answered the call, and within the time limit all but six hundred dollars had been subscribed by Rhode Island residents, in whose honor the building was named Rhode Island Hall. President Wayland’s New System of instruction, approved by the Corporation in March 1850 to be instituted as soon as $125,000 should be raised, began another fund raising campaign. Seven subscribers, including members of the Brown and Ives families and also Alexander Duncan and Horatio N. Slater, offered $65,000 on the condition that the remaining $60,000 be raised by September 5, and again the citizens of the community came forth to meet the challenge.
In June 1901 President Faunce announced the success of a two million dollar endowment campaign, which included half a million for the endowment of the John Carter Brown Library, $150,000 for a new library building, a contribution of $250,000 from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 1897, and contributions from about 2,500 subscribers, many of them not wealthy. A successful million dollar endowment fund in 1912, aided by a contribution of $150,000 from the General Education Board, was distributed as follows: $200,000 for the Women’s College, $225,000 for the pension fund, $50,000 for the Library, and $525,000 for the general funds. In 1914 the Loyalty Fund was established to provide an annual fund from the alumni in place of larger endowment campaigns. The Endowment and Development Fund of 1919 raised about $3,725,000, aided by an issue of “Brown Bear Bonds” ranging from “Baby-Bear Common” at five dollars to “Brown Bear–summa cum laude” at five thousand. The “bonds” were printed in brown ink and decorated with bears. The coupons were blank checks payable to the University.
The Brown University Council was established in 1936 with the purpose of increasing the financial resources of the University through a continuous cultivation of interest among alumni and friends. Chancellor Henry D. Sharpe 1894 was appointed General Chairman. The council plan called for the organization of local central committees across the country. Vice-President James P. Adams described the need for the plan, “During the past four of five years the University has made a very real effort to meet the requirement of the changing financial situation by reductions in expenditures. As a result of these efforts, involving reductions amounting to more the $200,000, the University operated virtually without a deficit for the two years, 1932-33 and 1933-34. ... Additional income is essential if the University is to proceed in accordance with the expectations of its alumni and friends. ... The program is not a financial campaign of the usual type – such as many institutions embarked upon during the 20’s. It is planned as a long time continuous administrative effort to keep the University, the work which it is doing, its financial needs, and the ways and means by which they may be met, in the minds of alumni and friends and to bring them to the attention of others who may be interested in a worthwhile educational project. It is hoped, of course, that there may be some immediate results which will help to meet the imperative needs of the next two or three years.” In June 1946 a Housing and Development Campaign was launched with G. Edward Buxton ’02 as chairman, its purpose to provide badly needed housing in the form of a new dormitory for Pembroke College and a quadrangle with dormitories for men students, fraternity houses, and a refectory.
A Bicentennial Development Program, designed to raised thirty million dollars by 1964 through growth in annual giving and bequests, was approved by the Corporation in October 1956. In June 1959 a major fund drive to raise fifteen million dollars was launched with Thomas J. Watson, Jr. ’37 as chairman, and continued through 1960 and the first part of 1961. In 1960 the Ford Foundation announced a Special Program in Education, designed to offer challenge grants to a few institutions with no restrictions, dispensed on the basis of the presentation by their presidents of plans for five and ten year permanent improvements projected for the colleges. In June 1961 Brown was the sixth recipient of such a grant of $7.5 million, if fifteen million could be raised in three years. On June 25, 1964, only a few days before the end of the fund raising period, the bell on University Hall was rung and the announcement made that $15,400,000 in matching funds were on hand. The success of the campaign brought to the University in December 1964 a second Ford Foundation challenge grant, this time for five million dollars to be met by ten million raised by the University by June 30, 1967. Fortunately for Brown the period of the challenge was retroactive to July 1, 1964, allowing an already received grant of two million from the James Foundation to be counted toward the matching funds. The Program for the Seventies was formally announced in November 1969, pursuing a ten year goal of $92 million, which proved to be elusive. The financial crisis of the 1970s called for new strategy in fund-raising. In 1974 Richard Salomon ’32 assisted the annual Brown Fund with a challenge grant of $500,000, which matched increases in donors’ gifts and gifts from those who had not subscribed the year before. The record-breaking years for the Brown Fund in 1974-75 and 1975-76 won for Brown the U. S. Steel Alumni Giving Incentive Award. In 1976 Brown Giving Clubs were established to encourage annual donations of certain amounts, the Century Club ($100-$499), the 1764 Associates ($500-$999), the Manning Fellows ($1,000-$4,999), and the Nicholas Brown Society for donors of an annual gift of $5,000, commemorating the gift of $5,000 given by Nicholas Brown 1786, which changed the name of Rhode Island College to Brown University.
“The Campaign for Brown,” launched in 1978, had as its five-year goal $158 million for endowment, current use, renovation of the John Hay Library and a number of departmental buildings, and new facilities for chemistry and geology. The campaign surpassed its goal by raising more than $180 million. In 1984 “The New Priorities,” another fund raising program (it was not called a campaign) sought to raise fifty million dollars in two years for endowment and current expenses. It succeeded in raising over $58 million. The Brown Fund was renamed the Brown Annual Fund and was expanded to include gifts for current funds for financial aid in addition to current unrestricted funds. In 1986 the Brown Annual Fund began to emphasize reunion giving, with the result that the fund revenues rose from $5.3 million to $10.5 million in the next five years. The three-year fund-raising drive which began in from 1986 through 1989 was named “The Challenge Years.” The $125 million goal of the drive, aimed at increasing endowment, unrestricted gifts and building funds, was spurred by five $1-million challenge gifts from Artemis ’55 and Martha Sharp Joukowsky ’58 in the areas of the Annual Fund, the Sports Foundation, library funds, the Center for Information Technology, and a fifth challenge to underwrite specific projects approved by the Corporation Committee on Development. “The Challenge Years” raised $131.7 million. The present campaign, named “The Rising Generation,” words taken from the University Charter, which aspired to form the rising generation to virtue, knowledge, and useful literature, began in April 1992. The goal of the campaign is to reendow the University by raising $450 million by the end of 1995, for the support of the following areas: $110 million for faculty endowment and graduate fellowships, $40 million for undergraduate scholarships, $25 million for the libraries, $90 million for academic support (programs, centers, institutes, curriculum), $15 million for national outreach initiatives, $50 million for the School of Medicine, $10 million for athletics endowment, $55 million for new and renovated facilities, and $55 million for the Brown Annual Fund.