Foundation Reports Record Fundraising Year

In the fiscal year that just ended, the UConn Foundation raised the largest annual amount in its history, and reported an increase in the number of donors, bucking a national trend.

Peter J. Werth speaks at an event to announce his $22.5 million commitment to the University and the naming of the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower on Dec. 4, 2017. Seated is President Susan Herbst. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

In the fiscal year that just ended, the UConn Foundation raised the largest annual amount in its history, and reported an increase in the number of donors, bucking a nationwide trend. The largest gift this past year was Peter J. Werth's $22.5 million commitment to the University to support entrepreneurship and innovation. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The UConn Foundation raised $82.45 million in contributions and pledged commitments for FY18, the largest annual amount in the Foundation’s history and a 15 percent increase compared to FY17. The Foundation presented its year-end results in a recent report to the Board of Trustees.

At a time when the number of Americans giving to charity is declining, the Foundation also reported that its donor count increased last fiscal year. All told, 22,260 people made contributions or pledged commitments in FY18, a modest increase of donors compared to FY17. The year-over-year increase in donors, which had not occurred since 2013, reflects the results of a new approach to donor engagement at the Foundation, including the launch of a Giving Day.

“Our mission statement – Strengthening UConn One Relationship at a Time – is something we believe in deeply, and it’s never been more important to the future of UConn,” said Foundation Board Chairman Dan Toscano. “We know that philanthropy will continue to play an increasingly critical role in UConn’s pursuit of excellence, and the Foundation is committed to meeting this challenge. Our new, innovative approach to engagement is the latest example of the Foundation establishing itself as an industry leader as it delivers results for UConn.”

A special report in the October 2017 edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy noted that “… fewer Americans appear to be giving to charity.” The report states that only 24 percent of taxpayers reported on their tax returns that they made a charitable gift in 2015, according to an analysis of Internal Revenue Service data. A decade earlier that figure routinely reached 30 or 31 percent. The Foundation is dedicated to increasing its donor count as it continues to expand engagement with UConn Nation.

Another highlight of FY18 is the continued support for the Transform Lives scholarship initiative, a $150 million effort to raise funds for scholarships and student support. The Foundation raised $22.3 million for the initiative in FY18 and more than $100 million since its inception in 2013.

“As someone who depended on scholarships to attend college, I appreciate the transformational power of philanthropy,” said Joshua R. Newton, president and CEO of the Foundation. “I’m grateful to our donors, who continue to invest in students and their promising futures.”

“The generosity of our donors and their deep commitment to UConn is incredible,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “The University can’t achieve its goals without a strong and vibrant UConn Nation as its partner. Engagement with our alumni and donors by the University and the Foundation continues to pay very impressive dividends for our students, faculty, campuses, programs, and the state as a whole.”

Principal gift donations – those of at least $1 million – are helping to drive the overall fundraising total to historic levels. The Foundation secured $37.9 million in principal gifts in FY18, including a $22.5 million donation from Peter J. Werth for innovation and entrepreneurship at UConn. The value of FY18’s principal gifts is nearly 50 percent more than the FY17 total, and speaks to the Foundation’s enhanced focus on these transformational gifts, having recently created a Principal Gifts department.

The largest gifts of FY18 are as follows:

  • $22.5 million gift in support of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • $2.8 million in support of scholarships for the School of Social Work
  • $2 million in support of the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources for undergraduate scholarships and the Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
  • $1.5 million in support of a Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at the School of Business
  • $1.3 million in support of the School of Engineering’s Reverse Engineering, Fabrication, Inspection, & Non-Destructive Evaluation (REFINE) Lab Fund
  • $1.3 million in support of the UConn Health Center
  • $1 million in support of scholarships for the School of Dental Medicine
  • $1 million to support UConn Athletics Capital Projects
  • $1 million to support UConn Athletics Capital Projects

Over the past four fiscal years, donors to the University have made commitments and gifts totaling more than $300 million, the best four-year period in UConn’s history. The Foundation is also pleased to report that at the close of FY18, the University’s total endowment had grown from $42 million in 1995 to approximately $440 million.

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