Tens of thousands of generous donors combined to make $162.28 million in new gifts and commitments to Virginia Tech this past fiscal year – a 62 percent surge in giving compared to the previous year and more than double what was raised just two years earlier.
“We are grateful to have the support of such a generous community,” said Tim Sands, the university president. “Philanthropy is supporting more than 100 new students who are receiving Beyond Boundaries Scholarships this fall, and building an Intelligent Infrastructure Complex where students and faculty will develop the smart, sustainable communities of the future. We asked our alumni and friends to help Virginia Tech have a bigger impact on the world. Their response makes it possible for us to grow as a global university, launch new programs, serve more students and communities, and create productive environments for learning and research.”
Fundraising is an increasingly critical aspect of higher education financing nationwide. Raising the amount of private support received each year has been a priority for Sands since he arrived at Virginia Tech, where state funding accounts for 17 percent of the total budget. Among major actions in his first year leading the university, Sands created the Division of Advancement, bringing together the university’s fundraising, communications, and alumni relations operations in an advancement model structure.
To head the division, he recruited a vice president from Cornell University, Charlie Phlegar, who is a two time Virginia Tech alumnus (1978 and 1987).
“Hokies are driven to serve, and giving back is one of the most powerful ways that they show it,” said Phlegar. “Our alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends, and corporate and foundation partners create tremendous opportunities with their generosity. We can’t realize our potential without them. We can’t thank them enough.”
Nearly 35,000 people made donations in fiscal 2017, including individuals, corporations and foundations. Numerous colleges and programs saw double-digit percentage increases in gift income, and the same was the case for new gifts and commitments. In several instances, giving more than doubled.
Donations to the Virginia Tech Annual Fund, which supports both academics and athletics, increased by 49 percent to $22.45 million. Alumni giving increased by more than 1,800 donors. The alumni giving participation rate, which affects rankings as well as revenue, was 12 percent.
“We aim to increase our alumni giving rate to 22 percent by 2022, Virginia Tech’s 150th anniversary,” Phlegar said, referring to a goal Sands announced in his 2016 State of the University address. “The past year’s fundraising accomplishments show that we have a wonderful community of supporters. It also demonstrates that we have a compelling vision for Virginia Tech and a growing ability to inspire donors to bring that vision to life.”
Phlegar joined Virginia Tech at the start of fiscal 2016, which was also university’s first complete fiscal year in the advancement model. Virginia Tech raised more than $100 million in new gifts and commitments that year, up from $80 million the year before.
The university also reports cash received each year, which was $125.02 million in fiscal 2017, up 23 percent from what had been a record total of $101.45 million in fiscal 2016. The university’s fiscal years run from July through June.
“Virginia Tech has an amazing culture of service,” said Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs, whose division saw giving more than quadruple. “Hokies are giving people by nature. As they develop their skills inside and outside the classroom, our students embrace the fact that education makes it possible to improve the world. Our alumni keep that mindset as they make their workplaces and communities better. We are extremely grateful that so many of them give back to make Virginia Tech better as well.”