By Greg Saks
Cal State Fullerton
Americans are a generous people.
According to the latest edition of Giving USA, over $390 billion was donated to nonprofit organizations in 2016, making it the most generous year of giving ever. Philanthropy is now 2.1 percent of GDP.
Through the generosity of many, Cal State Fullerton has grown from raising $7.3 million in gift commitments in 2011-12, to over $22 million in 2015-16. In 2016-17, the university benefited from the first back-to-back years of raising over $20 million.
Why has CSUF seen such growth in giving? While there certainly has been a very intentional effort to help link and engage the personal passions of our stakeholders with the university, the numbers are a reflection of what Giving USA shows nationally.
At CSUF, in fiscal year 2016, 62 percent of our giving came from individuals and 11 percent from foundations. This is compared to the national percentages of 72 percent coming from individuals and 15 percent from foundations.
While philanthropy from all sectors is critically important, individual giving, or giving through a family foundation, is very special to institutions like ours. These are the people who have emotional ties to an institution — ties that don’t weaken with changes in the economy.
There are many giving options available to individuals, too. Annual gifts provide reliable operating support year after year that is so important to funding ongoing programs. Larger, special gifts allow donors to significantly impact an area of interest to them. These major gifts can be real game-changers. And planned gifts provide donors with the opportunity to truly leave a legacy. Many times, donors choose to endow these ultimate gifts — which could be funded with any number of different types of assets — so that the impact is felt by the institution in perpetuity.
The national data show that education is the second-largest recipient of philanthropic funds after religious organizations. In 2016, education saw a 15 percent increase in donations. While this encompasses many different segments of U.S. education (and the number is a bit misleading, due to a few very large donations), it reflects the importance many Americans place on education to power social mobility and strengthen society.
For example, at CSUF we celebrate the fact that this year, 57 percent of our bachelor’s…