Philanthropy to Penn State sets records, despite recession

July 10, 2009

New Kensington, Pa. -- Penn State received a record number of donations in fiscal 2008-09, and more alumni than ever made gifts to the University during the year, the Board of Trustees learned July 10.

This broad-based philanthropy totaled $182 million in gifts for the year, the second-highest total in Penn State's history, noted Peter Tombros, volunteer chair of the University's capital campaign, in a report to the board.

Penn State received slightly more than 300,000 separate gifts from all sources, and 77,658 alumni made gifts, Tombros disclosed.

He pointed out that the $182 million total was exceeded only by the $190.3 million Penn State received in fiscal 2006-07. Philanthropic giving totaled $181.5 million in 2007-08.

"These numbers are a very encouraging indication of the resiliency of support for the University, despite the economic conditions affecting donors at every level," Tombros said. "None of us knew when the fiscal year began what difficult challenges our country, our University, and our donors would face, and I am deeply moved to see how our alumni and friends have risen to the need of Penn State and its students."

Total commitments -- gifts plus pledges -- to the University-wide fund-raising effort, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, surpassed $750 million as of June 30, 2009. The campaign began counting on Jan. 1, 2007, and is still in its leadership gifts phase.

The For the Future campaign is scheduled to be launched publicly on April 23-24, 2010. The University's senior leadership and top campaign volunteers will meet in January to determine a dollar goal, which will be announced at the kick-off event.

Penn State President Graham Spanier thanked Tombros and other campaign volunteer leaders.

"Their hard work, combined with the generosity of alumni and friends, has put the University in an excellent position to launch the campaign's public phase," Spanier said. "The campaign's strong momentum also encourages us to offer additional major gift opportunities. In the months ahead, I will be holding a series of discussions with prospective donors in various parts of the country to determine how they might want to be more closely involved in supporting specific Penn State programs."

The campaign's top priority is scholarship support for students. About $150 million of total campaign commitments has been secured for that goal, according to Tombros.

"The current economic climate has underscored the vital nature of this priority, as families and students struggle with job losses and dwindling college savings," he said. "Clearly, our alumni and friends believe deeply in the enduring value of a Penn State education."

Donors made $265 million in new commitments toward the campaign in 2008-09, Tombros reported.

"New commitments have dropped off by more than 50 percent at some institutions," he said, "but thanks to the loyalty of our supporters, the resonance of our campaign messages, and the robustness of our development operation, Penn State remains in a much stronger position than many of its peers."

Other campaign priorities include securing additional resources to enhance the student experience beyond the classroom and lab, strengthen honors education, increase the number of endowed faculty positions, and foster discovery and creativity through research and other scholarly endeavors.

  • Peter Tombros

    IMAGE: Penn State Public Information

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010