For the second straight year Illinois State University has broken its private fundraising record, tallying $36.8 million in total productivity and another increase in alumni donors—including 1,190 first-time donors. The gifts will mostly support student scholarships and academic programs.

The record-breaking amount—nearly double the previous high—was made possible by a surge in large planned (deferred) gifts and a growing base of alumni supporters who gave at all levels during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Many first-time alumni donors made their gift on Giving Tuesday in December 2014, a one-day online campaign that raised more than $343,000 for the University.

“Financial support from alumni, corporate partners, and campus stakeholders is a key element of Illinois State’s ongoing success,” said ISU President Larry Dietz. “Private gifts help enhance campus facilities, develop academic programs, attract and retain talented faculty and staff, and provide student scholarships. This year’s record gift total shows that a great many people believe deeply in the University’s mission and are willing to invest in its future. Thanks to their generosity Illinois State has a very bright future.”

Larry Dietz speaks at podium

President Larry Dietz at the State of the University address in September 2014.

The $36.8 million in cash, pledges, gifts-in-kind, and estate commitments help the University look to the future, despite uncertainty about future levels of state support.

“Private gifts help create stability and the margin of excellence for our students and programs,” said University Advancement Vice President Pat Vickerman. “It’s not meant to replace state support, but it can help us enhance the teaching and learning environment.”

Here are some signs that a culture of philanthropy is taking root at Illinois State, as set forth in the University’s strategic plan, Educating Illinois 2013-2018: Individualized Attention, Shared Aspirations:

  • Increase in alumni donors for the 5th straight year
  • 1,876 scholarships were awarded
  • 34 new scholarships were established
  • $9.5 million in outright gifts (cash in hand) helps the campus immediately

“All gifts matter, they really do,” Vickerman said. “Many of our most generous donors started by making $5 or $10 gifts. It all stems in their interest in making a difference in the lives of people here at Illinois State. Everyone has an opportunity to have an impact.”

The $25.5 million in planned gift commitments shattered the previous record. To date, ISU has more than $66 million in planned gifts documented to benefit future students, faculty, programs, and facilities.

image of Vice President of University Advancement Pat Vickerman

Vice President of University Advancement Pat Vickerman.

“When someone puts Illinois State in their estate plan, it elevates us to a family member status,” Vickerman said. “That clearly shows how people feel about their Illinois State experience.”

The Illinois State University Foundation is the private nonprofit organization dedicated to securing and stewarding private gifts that benefit ISU.

“Those who invest in Illinois State ensure we’re in the strongest possible position to provide an outstanding academic experience for our students,” said Ann Baughan, MBA ’83, chair of the ISU Foundation board of directors. “Two straight years of record-breaking private support show that our alumni and friends believe in our University’s leadership team and the direction set forth in our strategic plan, Educating Illinois.”

Meanwhile, Illinois State’s Athletics department also broke fundraising records last year, fueled in part by championship runs in football, soccer, and volleyball. In addition to an eight-figure alumni gift commitment announced last fall, Athletics also raised more than $2 million through annual gifts for the second straight year, while adding three new endowed scholarships, up to 28 total.

More support for Illinois State follows a national trend of increased charitable giving to education. For myriad reasons, it was the right time for more and more Illinois State supporters to make their gift.

“There’s a real sense of pride and confidence in the direction we’re headed,” Vickerman said. “If you want to make a difference in someone’s life and the education they’re going to receive, Illinois State is a great place to invest.”

Those looking to support Illinois State University are encouraged to make a gift now at