Donors give the U a big boost

Gifts totaling $180 million mark a high point in University history.

Cati Vanden Breul

The University received gifts from more donors this year than ever before.

By the end of the fiscal year on June 30, more than 92,000 donors had contributed gifts and collectively pledged $180 million to the University, a 24 percent increase from 2004.

“We feel terrific about it,” said Gerald Fischer, University of Minnesota Foundation president and chief executive officer.

The foundation has increased its fundraising efforts with mass mailings and calls to alumni from students, Fischer said.

“I think the University is feeling a lot of momentum these days,” he said.

Alumni giving at the University was up approximately 10 percent in 2005, compared with an average of approximately 3 percent at other Big Ten schools, he said.

A record number of donors gave more than $78 million to the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the highest annual amount it has received in its 66-year history, said Catherine Henry, vice president of marketing and communications for the foundation.

“The donors have been rising steadily, and we have been generally trending upward since Campaign Minnesota,” Henry said.

The largest gift received in 2005 was a pledge of $28 million from the Frederick B. Wells Jr. Trust for the prevention and treatment of schizophrenia.

“I can’t thank our donors enough,” Henry said.

Fischer said he was optimistic donations will continue to increase, because donors realize giving to the University is a good cause.

“The cause is so profound, and so noble, and so worthy. If we can continue to develop proposals of how we can advance the U’s mission, while also fulfilling the dreams and goals of donors, I think we have an excellent chance to continue receiving good support,” he said.

Since the foundation began the Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship Drive in 2003, donations for scholarships and fellowships have increased by the millions each year. This year the University raised $35 million for scholarships, compared with an average of $10 million to $12 million a year before the drive, Fischer said.