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Illinois State sets fundraising record with $19.5 million total

Erin Minne headshot

Erin Minné, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the Illinois State University Foundation.

A pair of seven-figure individual gift commitments plus another increase in alumni donors added up to Illinois State’s largest fundraising year ever. Total fundraising productivity of $19.5 million was announced at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The record-breaking private support includes cash, pledges, estate gifts, and gifts-in-kind committed in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. That total represents a significant increase over fundraising in the previous year ($14.8 million), and follows a national trend of increased charitable giving to education.

“Education continues to be a way in which donors can really see themselves making a difference,” said Erin Minné, who oversees fundraising as vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the Illinois State University Foundation.

The $19.5 million will support new and continuing student scholarships, endowed faculty positions, academic programs, and special funds such as the Red and White fund. Last year, that fund helped 25 students facing unexpected personal hardships, such as a serious family illness. In all, the ISU Foundation provided nearly 1,000 scholarship awards coming from 492 named scholarships, not including Athletics.

“The need to seek financial support from alumni, corporate partners, and university stakeholders is now more important than ever, and the impact of that support is greater than ever,” said Illinois State President Larry Dietz. “Private support allows us to construct better facilities and smarter classrooms. It allows ISU to build diversity by providing access to students from all walks of life. In short, it allows the University to accomplish its mission under Educating Illinois.”

The final tally includes gifts of all sizes, but it was two commitments of $1 million or more that made it a record-setting year. One of those gifts will be publicly announced in the coming weeks. Both commitments were made by alumni who are longtime supporters and volunteers. Each recently decided to bequeath sizable portions of their estates to the University. Those commitments, called planned gifts, allow for supporters to take their relationship with Illinois State to the next level, impacting students for decades to come.

“In some ways, these major gifts were just the culmination of work that had been done by faculty and staff over many, many years—the natural progression of those relationships,” Minné said.

Minné said she hopes the big-dollar gifts inspire other donors to give at any level.

“When we talk about those kinds of big commitments, then the light bulb goes on for other donors to think about how they can have an impact at a level that’s appropriate for them,” Minné said. “Maybe it’s $100. Maybe it’s $1,000, or $10,000. Everybody should think about what’s meaningful to them, about what they could accomplish at ISU, and do it in a way that’s comfortable for them.”

Overall, more than 10,400 alumni made a gift, a 2 percent increase over last year, and the fourth consecutive year of growth among alumni donors. That’s partly a result of increased efforts by University Advancement to both “tell the ISU story” through print and online publications, and to provide potential donors with multiple opportunities to give throughout the year.

“In an era where that number is flat or decreasing for many other institutions, that increase in alumni giving is impressive,” Minné said.

On-campus fundraising also made an impact. Faculty, staff, and retiree contributions through Gladly We Give have surpassed $1 million for the past four years. Graduating seniors continue to pay it forward for future Redbirds with 10 percent of the class participating in Senior Campaign the past two years.

The fundraising clock started again July 1, 2014, with the start of another fiscal year. Those looking to support Illinois State University are encouraged to make a gift now at

“We expect that we can and will continue to increase giving,” Minné said. “We are developing some real momentum.”

Ryan Denham can be reached at


You are to be commended on a wonderful and successful effort. I would really be honored to speak with someone from your committee. I would appreciate any pointers. Again, congratulations on a job well done. Fannie McCullough