ISU Foundation raises $106 million

Kyle Miller

The ISU Foundation said in a press release that more than 54,000 alumni and private donors had given $106 million in the 2006-07 fiscal year – over $13 million more than the previous year.

“These private fundraising dollars are the extras that make ISU so special,” said Ann Wilson, senior director of communications for the ISU Foundation. “We feel very positive that the numbers are increasing every year.”

The funds for scholarships, fellowships, buildings, campus programs and faculty support and retention all come from alumni and private donors.

Private donors, said Daniel Saftig, president and CEO of the ISU Foundation, is really a “catch-all term for all contributors.”

Private donors can be “friends” – for example, an athletic supporter or an individual who gives to the arts programs at Stephens Auditorium. Private support can also involve corporate gifts from companies such as John Deere and Pioneer, or private endowments, such as the Technology Foundation, the Roy J. Carver Endowment, or the local Ames Rotary. It is important to note, Saftig said, that none of these funds come from the federal government or the state.

The largest sums of money are from endowment funds, which come from private donors and differ from cash gifts given to the foundation. Cash gifts can be spent almost immediately, Saftig said, but endowments are based on the principle that a certain amount of money is given for a specific purpose, such as scholarships, and are expected to pay out the same amount of money for that purpose each year.

“Endowment means forever,” Saftig said. “Endowments are a measuring stick by which universities are measured.”

To ensure that an endowment lasts forever, the ISU Foundation must invest the money and can only spend the interest. This year, the ISU Foundation made an 18.3 percent return on the endowment investment.

Saftig said each year 4.5 percent of growth on endowments can be spent on what the endowment is for.

The rest goes back into to the fund to make sure “a million-dollar investment is the same [inflation-adjusted dollar amount] today as it is in 2020.”

“The growth of endowments are good for long-term investments,” Saftig said.

In the past few years, the gifts and future commitments have ranged from as low as 38.2 million in 2003, to the newest high of $106 million this year.

“2003 was a tough year for universities. The dot com bust had just happened, and donors felt the effects. In fact, philanthropy as a whole felt that,” Saftig said.

But as the numbers show, Iowa State has worked on better positioning and visibility to attract donors.

Sixty percent of all ISU alumni live outside of Iowa, Saftig said, so faculty like President Gregory Geoffroy have worked hard to keep in touch with the “ISU story.”

“We have worked hard to preserve our relationship with the alums,” Saftig said.