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Albert Russo

Albert Russo

Senior Major Gifts Officer, Carey School of Law, University of Pennsylvania

Pursuing the Ultimate Gift

Story by Gretel DeRuiter, Assistant Editor

Interviewing Albert Russo at
The University of Pennsylvania

Al Russo, Senior Major Gift Officer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School, knows how to listen for opportunities and how to make them happen. His flexibility, focus, and persistence as a fundraiser recently brought Penn’s Law School a record-breaking $125 million gift from the W.P. Carey Foundation.

What many don’t realize is that this enormous gift was the result of 11 years of conversations between the University and members of the Carey family. Russo steered those meetings—many of which hit dead ends before resulting in this transformative gift, but each conversation brought into clearer focus for the donors what an appropriately financed Penn Law could achieve. Russo’s positive attitude kept the transformative potential of the Carey gift in front of the donors until it became a reality.

When students walk the stage at commencement ceremonies, it is not to recognize the end of their work but to celebrate the beginning of taking hard-won knowledge and putting it to use for society. Russo likens the Carey gift to a commencement: “After 240 years of hard work and incremental progress by generations of committed colleagues and students we have been given a great opportunity to catch up financially with our peers and to implement programming that will forever change society for the better.”

When asked if Russo thinks the Law School has reached its fundraising goals, he responds emphatically: “Now is not the time to rest but to move forward. You never leave the field when the score is tied. This is a chance to push ahead.”

[Next issue: Discover  Al’s Philosophy in closing major gifts.]

By the Numbers

Consider the recruitment opportunities for your organization that these stats indicate:

  • About 63 million Americans (25% of the adult population) volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • These people spend an average of 52 hours/year volunteering.
  • 72% of volunteers are involved with only one organization, while 18.3% are involved with two.

Random interesting stats presented monthly from various sources.