Augustana College has broken a new record for fundraising and pushed its endowment past $200 million for the first time in the college’s 162-year history.

More than 18,000 gifts (from alumni, parents and friends) added up to more than $24 million in philanthropic support of Augustana’s mission during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, according to the website for the Rock Island private school.

(augustana.edu)

Especially important to this year’s fundraising success was the first installment of a $40-million gift from alumnus Murray Gerber ‘75 to fund the new financial aid program Augustana Possible, and an anonymous $2 million gift to fund further renovations in Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts, Augie said.

“Gifts supporting the student experience, faculty scholarship, innovation, financial aid and campus improvements all made a difference and will provide a strong foundation for the year ahead,” said Andrea Talentino, president of the college.

Talentino credits her predecessor, Steve Bahls, who served as college president for 19 years, until June 30, 2022, and the college’s fundraising and philanthropy professionals for the record-breaking year. 

New college president Andrea Talentino has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University, and a master’s and doctorate in political science from UCLA. While serving as dean at Norwich, she earned an MBA with a concentration in organizational leadership.

“As a newcomer to the community, I was especially impressed by the 742 new first-time donors in this fund year,” said Talentino. “I was equally pleased to learn that the average gift was about $50, which means we have many donors engaged in the support of the mission.”

Giving rate is double national average

The percentage of alumni who gave to Augustana in the 2021-2022 fiscal year was 16.4%. 

“This giving percentage is important to our U.S. News & World Report ranking,” said Kent Barnds, executive vice president, who oversees philanthropy at Augustana.

“The percentage of alumni who give serves as a proxy for how satisfied our graduates are with their alma mater,” he said. “At Augie, we’re proud that our alumni giving rate is about twice the national average, which rests at about 8%.”

Among the other important areas of fundraising focus, $2.5 million was raised for the Augustana Fund, which supports important annual objectives. 

Also this year, the college launched a new program — Friends of Music — which attracted 388 donors, many of whom are alumni who have fond memories of the college’s music programs. Friends of Music, in its first year, raised more than $1 million. And the Viking Club, which supports the experience of more than 700 student-athletes, raised more than $193,000.  

New tradition for generous donors

During Homecoming Week Oct. 9-16, 2022, the college will start a new tradition of flying a specially designed flag to recognize the class with the highest percentage of donors in the last fiscal year. This year the Class 1955 will earn the honor, with a giving percentage of 37.6%. 

“All sources of funds matter,” said Barnds. “Providing students with access to the tools they need to succeed comes at a cost, and that cost is more than what is covered by tuition alone. At Augie, we’re proud of the way donors step up to help provide the resources necessary to give students an unforgettable and inspiring experience.”