Experience Powered by Northeastern is ‘largest and most ambitious’ fundraising campaign in the university’s history

experience powered campaign graphic
Illustration by Cam Sleeper

Northeastern University kicked off its next major fundraising campaign, Experience Powered by Northeastern, this week, as excitement builds for the next stage of the university’s evolution as a global, experiential research institution.

“Northeastern’s extraordinary momentum has been fueled by experience as the lifeblood of learning and discovery,” President Joseph E. Aoun wrote to the university community. “Today, the deep well of energy, talent, and spirit within our global community inspires us to celebrate and amplify the power of experience worldwide.” 

Experience Powered by Northeastern is “the largest and most ambitious” fundraising campaign in Northeastern’s history, says Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement. Over the next five years, the campaign aims to raise $1.3 billion in philanthropic support. It is also embracing the communities across its 13-campus global university system, from Boston to London to Oakland, California, and aims to reach every student, faculty member, parent and graduate, no matter where they are.

“What is really important and exciting about Experience Powered by Northeastern is that it is unlike any other university campaign because Northeastern is unlike any other academic institution out there,” MacGillivray says.

“For a global university with a network that has 13 campuses across 13 cities and two continents, how you think about raising support for that network, for those communities, for our faculty and our students wherever they are, whether it’s on one of those campus platforms or anywhere else in the world, is an exciting challenge,” she adds. “No one has really done that before. But it’s also an enormous opportunity to think in a way that’s more out of the box and in a more innovative way.”

With its emphasis on empowering a global network of students, parents, faculty and alumni changemakers, Experience Powered by Northeastern will support the vision set out in Northeastern’s academic plan, Experience Unleashed. The campaign’s six fundraising priorities are designed to continue building on the university’s strengths while launching it into the future.

Richard D’Amore, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, echoed the sentiment around the momentous campaign. 

“I am excited by everything going on at the university, and I am incredibly proud to support all Northeastern will continue to do for the world through this campaign,” D’Amore says.

Much like previous campaigns, the foundation of Northeastern’s fundraising efforts is supporting the experience of students. In a global network, the student experience can mean something different depending on where someone is located, and the campaign aims to pursue resources that will allow every student–no matter where they are–to benefit from Northeastern’s global network.

In addition to offering transformative experiences for students across the globe, as well as competitive financial aid and diverse forms of support, Experience Powered by Northeastern will build on the university’s faculty excellence, with innovative teaching and faculty-led research.

“As we think about where President Aoun and his leadership team want to take the university and the expansion that he wants to have, it’s not only buildings and physical infrastructure,” says Alan McKim, co-chair of the campaign and member of the Northeastern Board of Trustees. “More importantly, it’s the expansion of faculty. It’s about how we continue to bring on world-class faculty as we grow the university.”

The campaign will also help to drive and accelerate the university’s innovative research; continue building Northeastern entrepreneurship; foster diverse connections by empowering every member of the Northeastern community through continued dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; and embrace global exploration to solve truly global problems.

“I think what I am most excited about is how this truly shows how we are a global institution,” says Curtis Burgh, a 2006 graduate and alumnus of Northeastern’s Young Global Leaders. “A lot of universities say they are or make that claim, but to actually see Northeastern with campuses around the world––diverse and unique campuses in their own right––that are also linked I think truly represents what we claim to be. And that’s exciting considering what the school was when I was a student 20 years ago.”

The thread tying together every element of the campaign is the idea that drives Northeastern as an institution: experience. From students to parents to faculty, having that common value provides a north star for every effort made at the university, including a campaign as ambitious as Experience Powered by Northeastern.

Fifth-year student Rowan Van Lare knows better than most how empowering it can be to embrace Northeastern experiential education. She started off as an English and media and screen studies major before forging her own path with an independent major that spans journalism, communications, media and screen studies and English. She took full control of her Northeastern experience and it led her to co-ops at the Boston Globe and House of Representatives.

“I have never had a bad experience because I’ve always known that it’s about the experience,” Van Lare says. “The word ‘experience’ to me is permanently entangled with the word ‘Northeastern.’”

Northeastern’s kickoff to the campaign embodies the concept of “experience.” The university is launching Experience Powered by Northeastern with a global “ball drop:” a series of four interactive events held in four global cities–London, Boston, Oakland and Bangkok–across a 72-hour period from Thursday to Saturday.

The activation is indicative of the campaign as a whole. The mantra for Empower was “show, don’t tell;” the vision for Experience Powered by Northeastern is “experience, don’t hear.” For Todd Manganaro, co-chair of the campaign and Board of Trustees member, that idea has kept him engaged with the university since he graduated Northeastern in 1995. What keeps him excited is how the campaign takes that idea in an innovative, global direction.

“What excites me about Northeastern is it’s always pushing forward,” Manganaro says. “The status quo is not OK. Being involved with that gives me excitement, and I think it does for everybody on the team. … It’s one thing to have excitement; there’s another thing about having excitement with results. And Northeastern has those results.”

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