This week, a £100 Million major gift was made to the University of Cambridge by physics graduate and successful hedge fund manager David Harding and wife Claudia.
The gift is Cambridge’s largest gift from a British donor in recent history.
It’s not every day an institution receives a mega gift like the one from the Hardings – who are donating to support the University’s access and scholarship programs which help disadvantaged students and those from minority ethnic backgrounds.
So who is David Harding and how did he come to donate such a generous gift?
Founder and executive chairman of Winton Capital Management. Harding graduated from Cambridge with honors, specializing in theoretical physics in 1982. Since then, Harding has become an entrepreneur and started two of the world’s leading investment companies and is a leading advocate for science education and physics research.
University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Stephen Toope said the gift will be “invaluable in sustaining Cambridge’s place among the world’s leading university.” and will be divided up to support several causes. £1 million will be used to help to provide funding for underprivileged students, £20 million to fund undergraduate students and an astonishing £79 million in scholarships to postgraduate Ph.D. students.
David and Claudia have revealed they are happy to make the gift “to help to attract future generations of the world’s outstanding students to research and study.”
Mega-Gifts & Who Gives Them
Although this is the largest donation from a British donor for Cambridge, it certainly isn’t the first mega gift they’ve ever received. In 2000, they received over £120 million from Bill and Melinda Gates.
And of course, Cambridge is not alone when it comes to receiving mega gifts. Oxford University (£75 million), Johns Hopkins University ($1.8 billion), Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($350 million), University of Southern California ($200 million) are just to name a few of higher educations who have seen the benefits of receiving generous mega gift donations from philanthropic alumni who want to give back to their alma mater and help new generations of students.
Mega-gifts are transformational for any institution and as annual giving rates decrease, the trend for these mega-gift donations are in fact rising. The power of these donations will be echoed for future generations to come, and so now, more than ever, it’s crucial for institutions to identify and engage their most successful alumni.
Read more about generating mega-gift donations here.
Sources & Additional Reading:
 University of Cambridge, Theguardian.com
 Billionaire David Harding, BBC.com
 Major Private Gifts, Chronicle.com
 David Harding, CNBC.com