ASU sets new fundraising record

student in medical room

Olivia Besthoff is one of more than 8,000 Arizona State University students that benefit from private support scholarships. The incoming nursing student received the Kaibab Industries Scholarship and spent the summer volunteering on the Medical and Surgical floor of Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center.

Thanks to the generosity of more than 100,000 individual, corporate and foundation donors, Arizona State University received a record $207 million in new gifts and commitments during the recently completed 2015 fiscal year.

The sum represents a 41 percent increase over the $147 million received in 2013-2014. The previous record amount was $178 million in 2008-2009.  

“We are humbled and grateful for our investors’ support and are excited by the innovative projects their generosity enables,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr., ASU Foundation chief executive officer. ”This year’s new commitments reflect donors’ confidence in ASU’s enterprise, and for what it stands.”

ASU philanthropy complements other revenue streams such as tuition and state support by providing the extras that enrich ASU educational, research, and outreach programs. Benefactors direct their gifts to each of ASU’s 16 colleges, schools and institutes to enable access and to develop original solutions to real-life challenges.

“Philanthropy is essential to ASU for a host of reasons. It helps make the difference between a good and a great university,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “We deeply appreciate our donors’ belief in our mission to enhance lives. A new university is born from the willingness to permit a new model for a public research university to emerge, to innovate, to be different. The end result will be increasing contributions by our students to the success of the state and the nation.”

In fiscal year 2015, more than 8,000 ASU students from the Tempe, Downtown, Polytechnic and West campuses received $38M in scholarship support from ASU benefactors.

“I can declare with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for the generous financial support I received,” said ASU graduate Chanapa Tantibanchachai, who studied biology and is now a science writer

Chanapa was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that requires a blood transfusion every three weeks, placing financial strain on her family.

“By enabling disadvantaged students who would generally not even have the opportunity to step foot on a college campus to thrive and pursue their dreams, donors help produce more educated, compassionate individuals who contribute to a more educated, compassionate society,” she said.

Leonard Downie, Jr., the Weil Family Professor of Journalism, said that endowed chairs and professorships attract talented faculty to ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Those journalists and scholars helped establish it as a leading model in the field.

“It’s a real opportunity to hire some of the best professionals in the business,” he said. “Cronkite has done that and done it well because of the funding foundation of others.”

One of the year’s highlights was the Sun Devil Giving Day promotion on March 19 when some 1,600 donors provided more than $1.4 million within 24 hours. As part of the celebration, ASU student volunteers collected cards from their classmates indicating which area of ASU they would like to support — some which were selected at random to receive a donation.

“Ever since I first started at ASU, I told myself that I’d give back as soon as I had the means,” added Tantibanchachai, upon making her first donation during Sun Devil Giving Day. “I’m thrilled that I’m now able to pay it forward, even if just a little in comparison to what I’ve received. I know my donation to ASU will be put in good hands and spent in a way that will truly help students.”

In 2015, gifts to ASU ranged from a few dollars to a few million. A $30 million gift to help bring a NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey team to campus and a $10 million gift to support the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, among other significant donations, contributed to the record fundraising year.

The projected value of ASU’s endowment rose from $626 million in 2014 to $643 million in 2015 – a factor in making the ASU Foundation the largest non-profit organization in Arizona. For the fourth year in a row, it received the highest rating by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator that ranks the efficiency of organizations so that individuals can make informed giving decisions.

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