Since 1968, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has been a model for the successful implementation of a public/private partnership. As the official memorial to President Wilson, Congress supports the Wilson Center through an annual appropriation; however, 70 percent of the annual operating budget must be raised from private sources to ensure the Center's continued role in "the dialogue of democracy."
The Development Office coordinates all of the Center's fundraising with a special mandate to secure vital unrestricted funds. Contributions, primarily gifts and grants from individuals, corporations, and foundations, touch every area of the Center's operations. For example, salaries for more than half of the Center's staff come from these funds, as do stipends for all of its research assistants. This private support is critical not only in enabling the Center to underwrite its established, ongoing programs but to respond in a timely way to current events and emerging issues and to help create and sustain new programs. The Center's Canada and Mexico Institutes and the Conflict Prevention and the Foresight and Governance Projects are all examples of recent initiatives undertaken and supported with private funds.
Also under the direction of the Development Office is the Woodrow Wilson Awards program. The Awards recognize outstanding leaders whose work embodies many of the same qualities that were hallmarks of President Wilson's vision for addressing the challenges with which a nation must deal. The Center presents the Wilson Awards at benefit dinners in major cities around the world.