Philanthropic donations to Cornell increased by $44.5 million — about eight percent — from $546.1 million to $590.6 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to the Council for Aid to Education.
The council, which conducts an annual survey to calculate donations, ranked Cornell as the fifth university to receive the most donations, behind Stanford, Harvard, the University of Southern California and the University of California, San Francisco.
Nationally, colleges raised a record $40.30 billion, which is the highest since the inception of the survey in 1957, according to the council.
Frederick Van Sickle, vice president of alumni affairs and development, said the increase in donations is due to the vibrancy of Cornell’s alumni community.
“Cornell is blessed with a passionately supportive alumni community that responded to the University’s needs and aspirations through the record setting and just-completed Cornell Now campaign,” Van Sickle said.
The Cornell Now campaign and the sesquicentennial celebrations also contributed to the increase in philanthropic donations, according to Richard W. Banks, associate vice president of alumni affairs and development administration.
“The Cornell Now campaign was instrumental in focusing donor attention on their support of Cornell, especially among our alumni,” Banks said. “Last year the sesquicentennial celebrations further energized the alumni, which also contributed to an increase in gift support.”
This alumni mobilization also led to an increase in the number of donors, according to Banks.
“We saw an increase of nearly 1,800 fiscal year 2014 to 2015, and this continues the trend we’ve seen during the Cornell Now phase of the campaign,” Banks said. “The number of campaign donors increased over 5,000 since fiscal year 2011.”
Not only did the number of donors increase, the size of the donations also increased, according to Banks.
“The … overall average gift size to the campaign is up nearly 15 percent,” Banks said. “While the total of gifts received was influenced by larger gift payments which came as a result of campaign fundraising, we also saw increases in the average size of smaller gifts.”
Some of the biggest gifts received by Cornell last year include $50 million endowment for the creation of Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and $100 million donation to Cornell Tech from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Van Sickle predicted that volunteer efforts and outreach will continue to help alumni aid the “endless potential” of students and faculty at Cornell.
“Under the energetic leadership of President Garrett, our trustees, and deans, we will continue our broad outreach and significant volunteer efforts to highlight the many compelling opportunities in Ithaca and New York to realize the endless potential of our students and faculty,” he said.