Giving to Penn State is resilient, even in tough times

February 10, 2009

University Park, Pa. — Despite the current economic climate, Penn State's alumni and friends are continuing to support the University through philanthropy, according to University President Graham B. Spanier. Tallies through the first seven months of fiscal year 2008-2009 show that while some donors have had to cut back their giving, others are making significant commitments to the University-wide capital campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. Overall figures are in line with last year's pace.

Support during the present cycle has kept pace with fiscal year 2007-2008, which saw the second-highest gift receipt figures in the University's history. Between July 1, 2008, and Jan. 31, 2009, Penn State received $102.8 million in private gifts -- just 1 percent behind the $104.2 million received over the same period last fiscal year.

"It's a testimony to the loyalty and generosity of Penn State's donors that even as they are coping with the financial downturn themselves, they have continued to make philanthropy to the University a priority," said Spanier. "Our alumni and friends recognize that higher education is even more important as our students and our country deal with the challenges of an increasingly competitive global economy."

The economy has made it more difficult for some donors to continue their support, noted Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rodney P. Kirsch. The number of alumni donors has declined by 5 percent, compared with the same time last year.

"It is understandable to see gifts to the annual fund decline during these hard times," said Kirsch. "Many donors, however, are still coming through for our institution and our students, and we continue to have active conversations with many friends and alumni about their philanthropic plans for Penn State."

New commitments to the campaign since July 1, 2008, total $173.2 million, a figure that is 6 percent ahead of last January's total of $162.8 million. Those new commitments include 23 gifts of more than $1 million.

Overall, the campaign has received more than $661 million in gifts and commitments, including more than $80 million from the University's Board of Trustees, since it began in its leadership gifts phase on Jan. 1, 2007.

"Alumni and friends of the University are connecting with the For the Future campaign's vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in the country," said Peter Tombros, volunteer campaign chair. "They have been especially responsive to the campaign's top priority: making sure that a Penn State education remains affordable and accessible for students from every economic background."

Spanier said that the need for scholarships, while always great, has increased dramatically over the last year.

"Families have lost jobs and seen their savings dwindle in value," he noted. "Our donors know that without scholarships and private support, many talented, ambitious students won't be able to earn their Penn State degrees."


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009