Fiscal year 2020 will be long remembered as a year of change and challenge. It will also be remembered for close collaboration and innovation across the university. Thank you for your partnership and flexibility over the past year as we advanced OSU’s mission together. With some strategic pivots and hard work, you helped us exceed our $123 million fundraising goal, raising $131.2 million and placing fiscal year 2020 among our top five years in OSU Foundation history. Thank you!
The year also brought important awareness to the work all of us at OSU must do to build a more welcoming community for our students, colleagues and alumni. At the OSU Foundation and in the OSU Alumni Association, we have recommitted and enhanced our efforts and created a new “to do list” for actions in fiscal year 2021 related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our plan is aligned with OSU’s strategic plan 4.0 and the diversity strategic plan. I am grateful to Vice President Charlene Alexander for her guidance. I am eager for our organization to take action in this regard along with our university colleagues.
While we look forward to the year ahead, which will undoubtedly include even more challenges that require innovation and growth, I want to celebrate our many successes in fundraising and engagement in fiscal year 2020 with all of you. Here’s a snapshot of just a few of the remarkable things we achieved together.
Since January 2015, donors to the Student Success Initiative established more than 475 new scholarship and fellowship funds, a 27% increase, and nearly 110 new student experience funds, a 62% increase.
We celebrated the creation of OSU’s fourth endowed deanship and first endowed coaching position, a commitment of $1 million to endow a professorship in ocean and climate sciences, as well as the first endowed fund devoted to addressing students’ basic needs such as food insecurity. OSU’s amazing donors also exceeded our fundraising goal for acquiring a new residence for the OSU president and upgrading it to allow for gatherings for the entire university community.
Our donors ensured that we achieved the $150 million fundraising goal for the university-wide Student Success Initiative. Together, these donors created more than 475 new scholarship and fellowship funds and nearly 110 student experience funds, and set an expanded baseline for student support fundraising at Oregon State (from an average of over $18 million per year from 2010-2014 to an average of over $30 million per year from 2016-2020).
Together with the Office of the Dean of Students, we established Beavers Care, to which donors gave $1,209,878 in less than three months. These funds will help students, faculty and staff who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Every single member of the University Cabinet, Council of Deans, Provost’s Senior Leadership Team and Faculty Senate Executive Committee gave to this important cause, as did 100% of the OSU Foundation and Alumni Association staff. Together, we sent a powerful message of support. Watch this video where one student shares her gratitude.
Our new Donor Experience Officer (DXO) pilot program has dramatically increased the number of personalized touches with potential donors. In just six months, our three DXOs engaged more than 1,834 donors with 9,800 touchpoints. By design, the DXOs do not travel, rather they utilize a number of platforms to interact with donors. We are so impressed with their progress that we are purchasing new software and equipment for additional development directors. This scaling of our relationship building efforts is a big move forward in our profession and exactly the type of bold move we should be making at this time.
We set a record this year for outright gifts of cash (which does not include outstanding pledge balances or deferred gifts). This is particularly good news for the university as cash becomes all the more important during challenging budget times. Cash, as measured by CASE’s Voluntary Support of Education Survey, is also how universities make apples-to-apples comparisons on fundraising progress; at $133 million, our cash total last year was $16 million higher than our previous record.
With recent changes at the university, we worked with donors to review and adjust, as needed, the criteria of over 100 scholarships to ensure that they meet current legal standards and can continue to be awarded to deserving students.
Professor Regan Gurung (left), who is also director of OSU’s general psychology program, chats with Director of Development Grady Goodall (right) in the Knowledge Breaks webcast, “Leveraging Psychological Science to Cope with COVID-19.”
Events and Engagement
We transitioned from in-person events to online events, finding creative ways to engage more people – from board meetings conducted by Zoom, to many new gatherings of alumni, donors and friends that showcase faculty excellence. Examples include:
The OSU Alumni Association completely overhauled its programming and communications plans and relaunched the Beaver Lodge as an e-newsletter and online hub to promote digital engagement opportunities from across the university, such as our new Knowledge Breaks webcast series, chats with head coaches and other digital events and content.
We celebrated the Arts and Education Complex launch via an online event that included spectacular student performances.
The Alumni Association held the first OSU Digital Days of Service last May and provided support for the class of 2020, including this video featuring many notable alumni.
Thanks to colleges prioritizing engagement, more than 40,000 people engaged with OSU, including 24,149 participants and 3,413 volunteers. We are focused on growing these numbers to help achieve critical outcomes to advance the university (e.g., securing internship opportunities for our students, advocating for OSU in Salem, etc.).
- Our endowment ended the year at $614.9 million, up from $606.4 million on June 30, 2019. We have an excellent outsourced CIO and Investment Committee who manage our endowment and position it to optimize returns while minimizing risk and volatility – something we certainly experienced this past spring.
After 12 years with the OSU President’s Circle, it was time to refresh our leadership annual giving society with more contemporary branding, communications and experiences. After conducting substantial research with peer institutions and a donor survey, we launched the Beaver Leadership Circle (BLC) for annual donors of $1,000 or more last fall. The new approach is focused on telling the stories of individual Beaver Leaders and why they give and showcasing the collective impact of these donors on OSU. Our goal is to increase the number of donors we welcome into the BLC – and who continue to give – each year. In its first year, the BLC was made up of 4,679 Beaver Leaders. Building a robust, engaged community of donors at this level is essential to maintaining a strong pipeline of future major gift donors.
We helped donors navigate significant changes in tax law: the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the deductibility of ticket-related seat contributions to OSU Athletics; the SECURE Act, which affects retirement and estate planning and the CARES Act, which expands tax deductions for charitable giving.
Our donors and volunteers have expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to spend time with President Alexander in virtual meetings, webcasts and phone calls.
- It’s been wonderful to begin introducing President Alexander to our most dedicated donors and volunteers. I am grateful to him for taking the time before his start-date, and during his first few weeks, to meet with OSU’s most loyal donors and volunteers.
- During a joint meeting of the OSUF and OSUAA boards, we honored President Emeritus Ray in a virtual celebration of his 17 years of leadership. We surprised him by announcing that donors had given more than $500,000 in his honor to funds he cares deeply about and that support OSU students.
- We also thanked and celebrated our outgoing Foundation president and CEO, Mike Goodwin, and I was honored to be selected to lead the Foundation and begin my service in January. And, what a first six months it’s been!
I am inspired by everything we’ve accomplished together and look forward to an amazing fiscal year 2021. We will be taking a break from the Fundraising and Engagement Update in August, but you can look forward to my next update in September.
Shawn L. Scoville
President and CEO, OSU Foundation