Jul 17 2014

Record Year for UM Fundraising Means More Scholarships for Students

The University of Montana received unprecedented private support in fiscal year 2014, with donations totaling $53.7 million. This is a $16.3 million increase over the previous record, set in 2008, the last year of the “Invest in Discovery” campaign. Giving reached $37.4 million that year.

A total of 13,598 individuals, businesses and foundations made gifts in fiscal year 2014, a jump from 12,775 donors in fiscal year 2013.

“We are an innovative university focused on providing outstanding education, and our donors are responding in record amounts and record numbers to the direction we are headed,” UM President Royce Engstrom said. “I am proud of the work of our Foundation, our faculty, our staff and our students, and I deeply appreciate the dedication of our donors.”

In July 2013, the University of Montana Foundation and UM set out to raise an extra $45 million for students over a three-year period. After one year, the “Investing in Student Success” initiative has received $22 million in support. Most of the gifts have been directed by donors to endowed scholarships and fellowships.

More than $1 million in additional money will be available for scholarships next year. The Foundation provided more than $4 million in scholarship support to UM in fiscal year 2014. This funded more than 2,700 scholarships to students. In the 2014-15 academic year, donations to the Foundation will provide more than $5.2 million to support scholarships at the University. 

The scholarships will go to students from every walk of life, from students with limited financial means to exceptionally talented students. Universities across the country compete for top students. UM is intent on increasing its ability to attract highly recruited students, and the private support helps. The Foundation’s mission includes providing access to UM through scholarships. 

“Supporters of the University, both alumni and friends, have been extremely generous this year,” said Michael McDonough, chair of the UM Foundation Board of Trustees. “They recognize the importance of higher education and the impact it has on people’s lives, and they are confident their gifts to UM will have a positive impact. We are grateful for each of these gifts, as collectively they will help support tens of thousands of current and future students.”

The future students to whom McDonough refers are those who will receive scholarships and other benefits from endowed scholarships and current support. In addition, this year’s total includes gifts that individuals will leave to the University in their wills or through other planned-giving vehicles. Thus, the University has a secure funding stream for future generations, a bank account of sorts.

The University compiles its fundraising report based on guidelines from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The fiscal year 2014 total of $53.7 million in donations is more than double the amount given in fiscal year 2013, when the UM Foundation counted $20.7 million in gifts and pledges. 

The gifts came in all sizes, from $20 student donations to multimillion dollar pledges from successful alumni. The number of gifts breaks down like this:

  • 276 gifts of $10,000 or more.
  • 1,536 gifts of $1,000 to $9,999.
  • 11,786 gifts of less than $1,000.

Shane Giese, president and CEO of the UM Foundation, says many factors led to the increase in giving.

“The groundwork laid by many people in the past is one of the things that led to this year’s success,” he said. “We are grateful for every gift, large and small, because they all make a difference. Universities rely heavily on private support to accomplish ambitious goals.”

The largest cash gifts and pledges include:

  • $5 million for a scholarship endowment from an anonymous donor.
  • $2.4 million for EdReady, an online college-prep program, from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.
  • $1.5 million for a professorship in the School of Journalism from the friends and family of T. Anthony Pollner.
  • $1 million for a scholarship endowment to support nontraditional students from the Bernard and Barbro (Osher) Foundation.
  • $1 million for facilities for student-athletes from an anonymous donor.
  • $850,000 to archive the congressional papers of former Sen. Max Baucus.
  • $800,000 in scholarships for law students from Zander and Andy Blewett.

The fundraising total includes private grants made to the University. The UM Foundation and UM Office of Research and Creative Scholarship have strengthened their partnership this year.

“The successful fundraising year for the University of Montana Foundation includes approximately $9 million in private grant support received by UM,” said Scott Whittenburg, vice president for research and creative scholarship. “The Foundation is a great partner in helping to secure funding for our campus faculty members, aiding them in the important research that benefits the local community, state and beyond.”

Giese notes that when the economy improves, so does giving. Nationwide, private support for education increased 7.4 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to “Giving USA,” a report compiled by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“There is so much more for the Foundation to do,” Giese said. “This is just the beginning of its increased support for this great University.”

The UM Foundation is the fundraising arm for the University. It is led by a 40-member Board of Trustees composed of alumni and friends from across the country.