MIT gets a $140M anonymous gift with a lot of flexibility

MIT has received a donation that is notable for its size and the lack of strings attached to it. An anonymous alumnus gave the university $140 million designated as an “unrestricted” gift, which gives MIT a lot of leeway in deciding how it is spent.

While the donors of restricted gifts usually have specific ideas for the money (like funding a department or study), MIT can use the $140 million donation on almost anything related to its educational and research mission, from its campus to early-stage research considered too risky for funding from other sources.

The university gave some examples of the projects unrestricted funds have already supported, including “the work of faculty breaking new ground in such areas as Alzheimer’s disease, where research into a unique visual stimulation technique could herald a breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of the condition, and in physics, where MIT faculty have played a primary role in detecting the largest collection of antimatter particles recorded in space — helping to advance our fundamental knowledge about the universe.”

Though they wish to remain unnamed, the donor said in MIT’s statement that they were a past recipient of MIT’s financial aid program. “I am also inspired by MIT’s vision in tackling global challenges, and I trust its leadership to take bold steps to make the world a better place. I am blessed to be able to give back to the Institute so other students can experience what I did, and so that the Institute can continue to excel in groundbreaking achievements.”

One of MIT’s most ambitious initiatives is the $5 billion Campaign For A Better World, which has already raised $3.4 billion from 87,000 donors to support research into environmental and humanitarian issues.