MISSOULA – For the third year in a row, giving to the University of Montana has topped $50 million. At the close of fiscal year 2016, private support totaled $53.67 million, just edging out the previous fundraising record set in fiscal year 2014, which was $53.66 million.
“People believe in UM and in its future – you can see this by their continued support,” said Shane Giese, president and CEO of the University of Montana Foundation. “We hope this news will motivate and inspire continued giving to our great University.”
Gifts came from all sectors – individuals, foundations and corporations – and included cash, pledges, estate commitments and private grants. Donors supported a variety of areas, including scholarships, campus facilities, and faculty and student research.
Numerous large gifts of over $25,000 boosted total dollars raised, as did private grants. UM received $11.3 million from private foundations and corporations this year, nearly doubling the amount raised in that area in FY2015.
Three consecutive years above $50 million has helped the UM Foundation exceed a goal set in 2013, when the organization launched the Investing in Student Success Initiative. Through the initiative, the Foundation set out to raise $45 million for scholarships and fellowships, dynamic learning environments and program enrichment. Thanks to sustained support from committed donors, the organization has exceeded that fundraising goal by 37 percent, raising a total of $62 million. The $45 million goal was met a year early, at the end of FY2015.
The majority of donations toward the Investing in Student Success Initiative – $51 million – were directed to student scholarships and fellowships. Thanks to increased funding in this area, the Foundation has been able to provide more support directly to students. In academic year 2012-13, the year before the initiative launched, the Foundation distributed a total of $3.16 million in scholarship funding to campus – 2,011 scholarships to 1,597 students. For the coming academic year (2016-17), the Foundation will distribute an estimated $5.2 million in scholarships and fellowships, providing 2,648 scholarships to 2,054 students. That means roughly 15 percent of the student body, encompassing the UM mountain campus and Missoula College, will receive a privately funded scholarship.
Hanna Ziegler is one of those who benefited from a scholarship last year.
“Receiving the James Crumley Memorial Scholarship was one of the greatest compliments I have ever received,” said the senior creative writing major. “Students are nominated and awarded by the faculty in the English department, and being selected by my faculty over countless others was a huge confidence booster.”
Scholarships also have a broader impact on the University, as enhanced financial aid packages are important for student retention and recruitment.
“Making a university education affordable is one of our top priorities,” said Thomas Crady, UM vice president for enrollment and student affairs. “Nothing is more important to ensure access.”
UM’s record-setting year is in line with national trends in philanthropy. The Giving Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy reports that 2015 was America’s most generous year ever, with private donations nationwide topping $373 billion.