Despite pressure to save money when the economy is down, donations to WSU have not lost steam since the start of the recession, according to university records.
In fact, private donations to the university have increased during the past five years, said Trevor Durham, the communication director for the WSU Foundation.
“The total number of donors is down a bit,” Durham said, “but the average donation per donor appears to be up overall.”
The trend is largely due to amplified fundraising efforts that started on July 1, 2006, with the advent of the Campaign for Washington State University — Because the World Needs Big Ideas, he said.
“Alumni and friends have also watched as budgets have become incredibly tight across the university and have generously stepped up to do what they can to support WSU’s students, faculty and programs,” Durham said.
Before the campaign started, the university raked in about $50 million to $60 million a year from donors, Durham said. But in each of the last few years, the WSU Foundation has raised more than $100 million.
The goal of the campaign is to raise $1 billion for the university in a nine-year period.
“We are now at more than $630 million, as of Sept. 30, and are on pace to surpass $1 billion in 2015,” Durham said.
Donors can choose to give money to a pool for general university support, or specific areas of WSU, such as the libraries on campus or the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).
An overwhelming majority of donors decide to give funds to specific areas, Durham said. Each area has a target for how much money the WSU Foundation would like to raise in its support.
“CAHNRS has received the most commitments during the campaign to date, representing approximately 18.8 percent ($110.3 million) of the total commitments raised during the campaign so far,” Durham said. “They also have the largest campaign goal of $236.5 million.”
The size of donations has grown in part because there has been a notable increase in estate gifts among donors in the past few years, Durham said.
“Because people have fewer liquid assets to contribute today,” he said, “they are more comfortable committing their estate or other resources in the future.”