Utah State University saw a significant boost in funds raised from private sources in the 2019 fiscal year, which runs from June 30-July 1.
The increase was due, in part, to a large number of first-time endowment owners, a sharp increase in planned gifts and an engaged alumni base. The USU Foundation received $40.4 million, a 53% increase from the previous year. The USU Foundation is the separate 501c3 that receives donations on behalf of the university and works closely with USU Advancement.
The funds will support a dynamic array of student opportunities, programmatic initiatives and institutional endowments, according to Matt White, USU’s vice president for Advancement.
“This year, our donors – the Aggie family – demonstrated their commitment and strength,” White said. “It’s been humbling to witness the extraordinary generosity of our donors. Each gift has increased student opportunity and elevated USU.”He said USU Advancement’s goal going into FY2019 was to align donor passions with university priorities, which are focused on driving learning, discovery and engagement. Throughout the year, Advancement staff worked with generous donors and alumni in novel ways, from new matching gift initiatives to the university license plate program.
2019 Philanthropic Highlights
- Gifts enabled 6,456 students to receive privately funded scholarships totaling $15.8 million.
- Gifts created a record 84 new scholarships. Of those, a record 68 were endowed. An endowment fund is an investment, a restricted pool of money that provides interest earnings for scholarships in perpetuity.
- The Aggie license plate program generated $198,000 in student scholarships.
- A matching gift initiative established 26 new scholarship endowments and encouraged 20 donors to establish their very first scholarship endowment.
University President Noelle Cockett said success of USU’s fundraising efforts is the result of the trust donors have in the university’s ability to deliver on its important statewide mission.
“Their generosity is an inspiration to all of us, and it encourages us to reflect on the power of working together to elevate all that USU does through philanthropy and alumni engagement,” she said.
USU was particularly proud of the immense generosity from its donors and alumni throughout the state of Utah, White said. Cache County generated $8.7 million from 4,213 donors, surpassing 1,484 Salt Lake donors who contributed just above $7 million. USU is Utah’s land-grant university with 25 locations throughout the state, and it received gifts from donors in all 29 counties.
A Matching Gift Initiative Inspires New Major Giving
Kim Larson, USU’s associate vice president for alumni engagement, said the university is always hoping to inspire the next generation of philanthropists to be engaged with the university.
“As our university’s alumni transition from new graduates, to mid-career professionals, and ultimately to leaders in their fields, we hope they clearly see the value of their degree,” Larson said. “We think they understand their role as part of the Aggie Family, and we are grateful that our alumni recognize USU’s role in their success and have a desire to ensure the next generation of Aggies have the same experience.”
USU completed a major matching gift initiative for endowed scholarships this year, opening doors to those who want to make an impactful gift but who might not have the ability to establish an endowed scholarship on their own. The program had an overwhelming response, White said. It allowed donors to establish their endowment over five years but began doling out scholarship money immediately. Named the Aggie Family Endowment, the program established 26 new $50,000+ endowments, providing $25k of awardable money for the next five years and $50k per year thereafter. Ultimately, the initiatives will generate $1.3 million in endowed scholarships.
“Because of the Aggie Family Endowment, 20 new first-time donors will be able to hear stories of students who have benefited from their giving,” White said. “These funds will help continue to attract the brightest students to USU, regardless of their financial circumstances, increasing their opportunity and potential to make a meaningful difference in the world.”
Movement in Gift Planning
Planned gifts played a significant role in USU’s fundraising increase, accounting for nearly a quarter of all funds raised. These include gifts made through a will or living trust, charitable gift annuity, insurance gift, charitable trust, gift of retirement assets, real estate, business interest or some other form of planned gift.
The establishment of the Heritage Level offers a new giving level in USU’s Old Main Society to donors who include USU in their will and estate plans.
USU’s Spin on Crowdfunding: AggieFunded
The university also began a program called AggieFunded, the only campus-approved crowdfunding platform for USU. AggieFunded was designed to allow groups, clubs and organizations opportunities to develop digitally-driven fundraising campaigns to enrich student experiences.
AggieFunded has evolved since 2016, when it saw only one program and aided seven students. In FY2019, the program expanded to 18 campaigns and assisted 171 students. The program aims to double its success in the coming year.