Fundraising reaches new heights at UGA

Published 3:51 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In the first year of the public phase of the Commit to Georgia Campaign, University of Georgia donors set a record in fundraising, contributing $227.8 million in new gifts and pledges.

“When we launched the public phase of the campaign last fall, we called on our alumni and friends to help us expand the impact of this great university on the world,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Clearly, they are answering that call with extraordinary generosity and support, and it is with the deepest sense of gratitude that I say ‘thank you’ for making gifts that are changing lives.”

This marks the fourth consecutive year that UGA donors have set a new record in fundraising and the first time in the university’s long history that the annual total has surpassed $200 million. The unprecedented total represents a 24 percent increase over last year’s record of $183.8 million and nearly doubles the $117.2 million raised in fiscal year 2013, the year prior to Morehead taking office.

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The goal of the Commit to Georgia Campaign is to raise $1.2 billion by 2020 to increase scholarship support, to enhance the learning environment, and to solve the grand challenges facing society. More than 68,000 donors contributed this year-another record-to reach an overall total of $827 million toward the campaign goal.

“I am not surprised to hear that more donors gave to UGA this year,” said Ruth Bartlett, immediate past president of the UGA Alumni Association. “Our alumni believe strongly in UGA’s vision for the future, and they are eager to help make it a reality.”

Private giving toward the campaign already is making a difference: 115 need-based endowed scholarships, for example, have been created through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship program since its introduction in January. Most of these new scholarships will be awarded in the fall to incoming first-year students with unmet financial need.

“My wife Ada Lee and I believe a scholarship can change the course of a life, and we want all students to be able to take full advantage of what UGA has to offer,” said Pete Correll, honorary co-chair of the campaign committee and chairman emeritus of Georgia-Pacific. “We believe in this campaign and this great university, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.”

University officials believe that the first year of the public phase will produce the highest annual fundraising total with fluctuations up and down in the years to come. The overarching goal of any campaign is to elevate annual fundraising levels for the long term. That is why officials are tracking the three-year rolling average-which is now 60 percent higher than FY13 at $185.2 million-to provide a better measure of sustained growth over time.

“A successful fundraising year is always exciting, especially one of this magnitude,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations and executive director of the UGA Foundation. “But, I’m most proud of the three-year rolling average, which is a clear sign of the culture change we’re seeing around private giving at UGA. Our donors know that we are making a difference every day, and they want to be a part of the long-term impact of this special place.”