Penn Staters' generosity drives campaign success, says chair to board

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. -- A culture of philanthropy that has been decades in the making continues to sustain record-breaking results in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, according to a report from campaign chair Peter G. Tombros to the Board of Trustees today (July 12). Penn State’s third comprehensive campaign, which began in 2007, is now more than 92 percent of the way toward its goal of $2 billion by June 30, 2014, and Tombros credits the enthusiasm of supporters for helping Penn State and its students to succeed.

“Since the University’s first major fundraising effort in 1984, giving back has become a core part of our culture and our identity as Penn Staters, and philanthropy has helped the University to become an international leader in education, research and service,” said Tombros. “I’m proud to report that we are rising to the challenge set by Penn State’s past fundraisers and continuing their legacy of success.”

Tombros shared the campaign’s 2012-2013 results, including the largest number of donors ever for the University. More than 193,000 supporters made gifts last fiscal year, and overall receipts were $237.8 million, the second-highest total ever achieved by Penn State. While the number of alumni donors was down slightly, reflecting a trend across higher education, Penn Staters gave 23 percent more than the year before for a total of $87.6 million -- again, the second-highest total to date. “The last three years have witnessed the highest levels of giving in the history of the University,” said Tombros. “It’s extraordinarily encouraging to enter the last year of the campaign with this kind of momentum.”

This support is not only creating momentum toward the campaign’s goal, but it is also building long-term strength for the University, according to Tombros. Of the $1.85 billion committed thus far to For the Future, 37 percent has been directed to endowments. “We’ve achieved a healthy balance of immediate use and endowed funds, and we’re hitting our endowment target for the campaign,” Tombros said. “Through the University’s prudent investment strategies, these funds will provide support in perpetuity, and our endowment donors will have a permanent role in shaping our institutional priorities.”

Many of the endowments created during For the Future are scholarships, the campaign’s top priority. Tombros highlighted the success of the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program, which has raised more than $100 million for students with financial need. The program has been extended through the end of the campaign and has doubled its annual match from University funds to 10 percent of a donor’s gift, so that new Trustee Scholarships will now generate three times as much student support as a typical scholarship endowment.

The campaign’s focus on Penn State students continues to resonate with alumni and friends, said Tombros, and he also pointed to the role of volunteers and leaders, past and present, in the success of For the Future.

“Hundreds of our graduates, as well as citizens in the communities we serve, are investing their time, talent, and treasure in this effort,” he said. “We are also guided by the example of three great Penn Staters and great philanthropists whom we lost this past academic year -- Lloyd Huck, Verne Willaman, and Cal Stuckeman. They helped to make Penn State what it is today, and they will continue to inspire all of us who serve and support the campaign as we help to make Penn State even greater.”

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Last Updated August 20, 2013