Penn State fundraising rebounds; record number of alumni give

mdawson@centredaily.comJuly 9, 2013 

Penn State is closing in on its $2 billion fundraising campaign with the help of the highest number of donors in university history, an official said Monday.

More than 193,000 donors — alumni, faculty, staff, corporations, etc. — contributed $263.5 million in money collected and financial pledges since last July to the fundraising campaign that will end next summer, said Rod Kirsch, the university’s senior vice president for development. The donations and pledges pushed the fundraising total to $1.85 billion, he said.

The $263.6 million in cash and pledges is up 15 percent from the year before, when the university had $223.7 million in cash and pledges.

That increase came over the course of a year filled with turmoil and alumni angst.

The Freeh report condemned late coach Joe Paterno and three other university administrators for concealing abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA handed down sanctions days later, and then in the fall, former university President Graham Spanier was indicted on cover-up charges and former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz were indicted on new charges. Later, three alumni won election to the board of trustees and knocked out two incumbents.

“We’ve really had a very resilient group of donors,” Kirsch said. “I think donors are continuing to want to support Penn State students here and support the core mission of the university.

“The proof is ultimately in these numbers.”

The $263.6 million is made up of $237.8 million that has been collected, while the rest is in donation pledges.

That’s the second-highest figure in that category in university history, Kirsch said. It is eclipsed only by $274.8 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, when alumnus Terry Pegula donated more than $100 million toward a hockey arena here and NCAA Division I hockey programs.

Of the $237.8 million in cash for this past fiscal year, alumni contributed $87.6 million of the total, Kirsch said. That is up 19 percent from the previous year, when alumni gave $70.9 million.

While the alumni donations are up, the number of alumni who donated is down almost 5 percent. The fiscal year that just ended saw 72,111 alumni give money to the university, but the year before, 75,593 alumni gave.

The total number of donors is up to the highest level ever, Kirsch said. The university saw 193,393 donors this past fiscal year, which is up from 191,712 in 2011-2012.

“Most universities would just love to have that kind of broad-based support,” Kirsch said. “We’ve had solid support, and I think there’s just a lot of loyalty to the institution.”

Kirsch said the fundraising campaign has brought in $400 million that will go toward student scholarships. Another $688 million will go toward Penn State’s endowment, which is just shy of $2 billion, Kirsch said.

The “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students” is the largest fundraising effort by the university, and it began six years ago.

Fundraising highlights include:

•  Faculty and staff contributed $55.2 million toward the campaign. That’s well above the $43 million goal.

•  49 donors gave $1 million or more.

•  The Penn State-student run dance marathon raised $12.4 million, and that counts toward the fundraising campaign’s goal.

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