How Top Universities Are Making a Difference Through Fundraising Programs



College is a place for students to learn, laugh, succeed, and fail. Most of all, it’s a place to grow. When colleges and universities provide students with access to the tools they need to succeed, great things can happen. Fundraising programs help institutions provide the resources necessary to give students an unforgettable and inspiring experience.

Donations, regardless of amount, are crucial. They enable first-generation students to break barriers, classrooms to be more diverse, professors to pass along a wealth of knowledge, and students to achieve things they never thought were possible. For many, none of this would happen if it weren’t for the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends.

Through these gifts – whether they be of money, in-kind contributions, time, scholarships, or university funding – institutions have the power to change lives.

So how do some top universities do it?

Stanford University

For several years, Stanford University has ranked among the nation’s top universities in fundraising, and the 2016-2017 fiscal year was no exception. Reported at a record-breaking $1.13 billion in gifts, funds are distributed across the institution’s greatest needs. The university makes it easy for donors to choose where they want their resources allocated, with categories that include the support of undergraduate and graduate education, specific schools, Cardinal athletics, research initiatives, institutes, and more. Despite most gifts amounting to less than $1,000 each, the gifts add up to hundreds of millions, or in Stanford’s case, billions. According to the university’s website, “Stanford is one of the few universities that meet 100 percent of every family’s demonstrated need”. For many students, these gifts are what make the difference.

Keep up with the latest at Stanford University on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cornell University

At Cornell University, gifts to Cornell are also considered “gifts to the world through Cornell”. These gifts help support research, allow members to serve in public engagement, and fund creativity and discovery. Their campaign supports the idea that when donors invest in students during their time at Cornell, graduates will use their talents and new knowledge to give back to the world, making the world an inherently better place, one student at a time. In 2017, the university launched its endowed scholarship challenge to strengthen its commitment to “…any person … any study.” And in 2018, the university raised nearly $22 million to make a Cornell education accessible to students. At Cornell, supporting education is the greatest gift to the world.

Stay up to date with Cornell’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn channels.

University of Southern California

For the last six years, USC has ranked among the top 5 universities in the nation in fundraising. The funds raised have provided support to the university’s student and faculty endowment, major infrastructure and capital projects, and ongoing academic and research programs. A recent project that has benefitted from fundraising efforts is the USC Village for residential and retail development. While currently the home of a few thousand Trojan students, the USC Village will eventually serve as housing for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games. USC has been able to create an environment that fosters great minds that are striving towards excellence.

Engage with USC on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Johns Hopkins University

“Advancing, enriching, and solving.” This is the mantra for Johns Hopkins University’s campaign. Recognizing the challenges that our world faces, Johns Hopkins ensures that generous gifts will:

  • Create an environment that supports the advancement of discovery and creativity
  • Bring in competitive students and faculty
  • Help make new discoveries to better the world.

In addition to typical fundraising efforts, alumni, family, and friends also rise to the challenge out in their community of Baltimore and beyond. These events range from participating in service projects to intellectual discussions on how innovation can solve problems. Philanthropical efforts have the power to enrich a student’s experience just as much as monetary donations do. By focusing on the student’s environment both inside and outside the classroom, Johns Hopkins University is inspiring a generation to be a part of something greater than they had ever imagined.

See what Johns Hopkins is sharing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

University of California Los Angeles

In addition to fundraising for student scholarships, faculty endowment, and facility renovations, UCLA’s campaign is centered around giving back to the community. Donations made towards philanthropical funds and school programming allow students to make an impact on things that matter to them. In the top banner of their giving site, donors are given a choice as to which field they want to donate. The donor is then provided a list of funds that are relevant to their choice. Some of the most prominent include the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Chancellor’s Greatest Needs Fund, the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT), The Broad Stem Cell Research Center, sustainability efforts, and the student scholarship funds. Ultimately, each of these funds are about supporting UCLA students in their efforts to engage in the community. The hope is that students, alumni and faculty will help make their communities safer, healthier, sustainable, and more equitable. But it can only be done with the help of donors.

Get the latest updates from UCLA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Stony Brook University

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and Stony Brook University is no different. In all aspects, excellence is at the university’s core. There’s a common belief that the quality of education and research at a public institution is not as high as that of a private institution. But Stony Brook University – a public institution – has proven time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with. By supporting the students and operations of this university, donors are enhancing the university’s status as an institution that will enact great change outside of the campus. For example, the research and discovery fund alone has raised $195.2 million dollars to help Stony Brook go further as an excellent public research university.

Explore Stony Brook on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

University of Washington

“Be Boundless – For Washington, for the World.” These are the words that bring University of Washington’s campaign together. Launched in October 2016, the campaign has proven successful as it has so far raised $4.89 billion out of their goal of $5 billion (as of July 1, 2018). But what does this all mean? Being boundless for the University of Washington means extending education beyond the classroom through an immersive education.

Not only do gifts support financial aid, but also the quality of these immersive experiences. For example, environmental science and terrestrial resource management majors can participate in week-long field experience trips to Yellowstone National Park. Students have really taken to the experience. One student declares, “I didn’t know if I could hack it, how difficult it would be or if I would even enjoy it. But now I’m really excited about fieldwork. I’m definitely going to pursue it.” A peer raves, “Being out here in the wilderness and seeing the animals you’ve heard about in class – it just solidifies all you learned and makes it much more memorable.” Funding for the “Be Boundless” campaign isn’t about just getting students to college; it’s about taking them out into the world and allowing students to be excited about discovering what lies beyond the borders of campus.

Stay updated with UW on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Baylor University

For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Baylor University fundraised the second-largest amount in Baylor’s history with a substantial $113 million. This overlapped with Baylor President, Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.’s first year in office. Success in fundraising was found not only in gifts towards a general fund, but also in student-athlete support, mission trip aids, student care and wellness funds, and targeted funds for students and departments. “The great variety of gifts, both in size and in the programs strengthened, is a reflection of the diversity and passions of the Baylor Family,” said David Rosselli, vice president for the university advancement.

Be in the know with Baylor on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame isn’t just made up of students and faculty; the Fighting Irish is a community of people coming together to help create a fulfilling life for the students they are serving. Through the “Boldly Notre Dame” campaign there are nearly 200 priorities that help fund the needs across campus and beyond. But there’s one priority that brings the uniqueness of the institution together: preparing leaders of character. Rooted in its Catholic heritage, this research university creates an educational experience that combines a rigorous curriculum with an environment that nurtures moral and spiritual values. Through their commitment to students, Notre Dame is inspiring a generation to give life meaning and lead others towards a better future.

Recently, Allan J. Riley (a 1957 Notre Dame graduate) and his wife, Radwan, made the largest gift directed towards financial aid in Notre Dame’s history. Like many donors, the Rileys believe that providing an education to young people is vital to our progression towards understanding the world. Making a Notre Dame education more accessible to those who want to be leaders is the first step to fulfilling that mission.

Discover what’s new with Notre Dame on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Yale University

Yale University has established its prestige by its academic standards, research discoveries, and its commitment to excellence. In addition to the generosity and support of faculty, alumni, family, and current students, members of “Bulldogs of the Last Decade” (BOLD) certainly believe in Yale the most.

As recent graduates within the last decade, members of BOLD are vital to the university’s future heritage and success. Supported by generous donations and class dues, these new Yale alumni are invited to stay engaged with the Yale community by participating in university events and fundraising programs. Some examples of these include being a part of alumni-specific events, the Yale applicant interview process, and class reunions. The Bulldogs of the Last Decade are not only showing their financial support of the university, they are also preserving the essence of Yale’s integrity by showing future students how grateful they are of their time as a student. Every gift to Yale University made by BOLD helps make sure that every core need is met.

For more from Yale, visit Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Lehigh University

At Lehigh University, their goal is to select students who have the talent to succeed. And they believe these selected students should not be forced to go somewhere else just because they cannot afford the ticket price of the university. This enrollment philosophy is why Lehigh decided to be a part of the American Talent Initiative (ATI) in 2016. The ATI is a growing alliance of colleges and universities who are challenging themselves to make college accessible to low- and moderate-income students. Current University President, John D. Simon, once said, “in order to thrive amid today’s challenges, America—and the world—need the talents and skills of all students. Efforts like these not only ensure that our doors are open to talented students from all backgrounds, but they help build a stronger Lehigh and brighter future for all.”

In addition, it’s important that the university can compete for a strong faculty. Faculty endowment allows the university to bring top scholars and researchers to create an enriching academic environment for its students, making a Lehigh degree not only more affordable, but also highly valuable.

Explore the latest from Lehigh on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

New York University

The heart of the 1831 Fund at New York University (NYU) is “scholarships for students, by students”. For many students, their journeys at NYU began as merely a dream. The 1831 Fund helps make those dreams a reality since 100% of donations goes toward freshmen and transfer student scholarships. This competitive campaign between university graduating classes encourages students to donate with the firm belief that they are inviting more people to be a part of the NYU community. By simply donating $18.31 in recognition of NYU’s founding year, students are making a difference in the life of their future peers. Each year, the graduating class has broken the record set by the previous year. The Class of 2017 raised over $45,000, and only time will tell if the Class of 2018 has beat that amount!

Find out what’s new with NYU on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

University of the Pacific

At University of the Pacific, one of the flagship fundraising programs is #PacificGives, the university’s Annual Day of Giving. #PacificGives allows all donors – regardless of whether they are a UOP alum or not – to explore opportunities to support students and faculty and give to the areas they feel most passionate about. Through this program, alumni, students, family, and friends can renew their ties to the university. The #PacificGives 2017 program achieved its goal of raising 500 gifts in 24 hours. These gifts funded scholarships, vital equipment, facility upgrades, student travel, athletic teams, experiential learning opportunities, and more!

#PacificGives serves as an opportunity for Pacific to inform alumni and supporters about what’s going on at the university, and all that’s being achieved by both students and faculty. It taps into social media as well, encouraging alumni to show their Pacific Pride and spread the word in support of UOP.

See what UOP is up to on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Brown University

In 2002, Brown University made a promise to make a Brown education an option for prospective students of all economic backgrounds. Students of high merit would no longer be at the mercy of their ability to pay or not. The university firmly believes that financial status should not have the power to make one of the most important decisions of the student’s life for them. Ultimately, this promise would give students their freedom of choice back.

In September 2017, Brown launched a new initiative – The Brown Promise: The Future of Financial Aid at Brown – to take the next major step. This renewed promise ensures that all students – including those families of moderate incomes – will receive grants to cover costs not included in financial aid packages. These grants don’t need to be repaid. With the weight of the price tag relieved, students can get back to focusing on their education.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the university raised an incredible $30 million to meet their phase one goal. This endowment would not have been possible without the generosity of over 2,000 Brown supporters. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the university has set a lofty goal to reach $120 million.

Get in touch with Brown on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Just like these top fundraising universities, Evisions believes in the power of education. Students are the future, and when we invest in them, we are investing in the world. Gifts, no matter what form they come in, can make the difference in a student’s life during their time in college. They allow universities and colleges to function without relying solely on student tuition and state funding. Fundraising is one of the tools that enable institutions to focus on what really matters: providing a quality education and achieving success. Evisions is proud to work with higher education institutions to help them achieve their goals.

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