It started with an anonymous $20 million gift.
Three weeks later, another $20 million gift, also anonymous.
Four weeks after, another game-changing gift – this one for $13 million from alumnus Michael Smith.
In the three months since “State Your Purpose – The Campaign for Colorado State University” was officially launched, support for CSU has come at a pace that can only be described as remarkable. During that short timeframe, $64 million has been raised to support people and programs across campus.
‘Amazing three months’
“It has been an amazing three months,” said Brett Anderson, CSU’s vice president for University Advancement. “Our supporters have really embraced the fantastic things we’re trying to do here at CSU and our campaign, and they have provided some tremendous momentum to help us reach our goal of raising $1 billion by 2020.”
Successful fundraising has become the standard at CSU, with five consecutive years of record-breaking totals. Last year, CSU raised $172.3 million – the most ever for a single campus at a Colorado university.
This year, thanks in part to the robust response to the campaign launch, CSU already has surpassed last year’s total by $5 million – with another two months remaining in the fiscal year.
“That, to me, is just amazing, because last year was such a great year for us,” Anderson said.
The rousing fundraising success, however, is not defined by dollars alone. Alumni giving has increased by more than 50 percent in six years, while nationally alumni giving has dipped by 10 percent.
Anderson said a concerted effort to involve alumni is paying dividends.
“As awareness of this university grows across the country, our alumni are coming back and seeing all of the exciting things happening here,” he said, noting that CSU has invested $1.3 billion in campus infrastructure improvements since 2010. “They see what’s going on and they want to broaden their support. We’ve got exceptional programs, exceptional faculty and exceptional students that donors want to support.”
Alumni making an impact
Nicole Staudinger, who graduated from CSU in 1999 with a degree in business administration, grew up on a small ranch near Sedgwick in northeastern Colorado. Paying for school was a challenge but she got the help she needed, and she used the knowledge gained at CSU to help her become president of First Bank in Northern Colorado.
“I was able to get some scholarships that really helped me to get my degree,” Staudinger said. “I felt such gratitude to the people who had created those scholarships, so it’s always been a personal mission of mine to give back to CSU and help students like me.”
“I especially love helping first-generation students reach the finish line and get their degrees.”
Anderson noted that giving is spread across campus. Smith’s gift, for example, touched three of CSU’s eight colleges and the Michael and Iris Smith Alumni Center at the new on-campus stadium.
Gifts touch all of campus
Athletics has raised a record $30 million this year, shattering the previous high of $20.8 million in 2013-14. And fundraising for the stadium has been steady, with $53 million brought in thus far.
The most exciting aspect of stadium fundraising has been the enthusiastic response from fans to the premium seating options – most of which are not available at Hughes Stadium, the Rams’ home until 2017. More than 80 percent of premium seats have been sold, and CSU has surpassed the 100 percent mark for projected sales 16 months prior to the inaugural game.
While athletics fundraising has been impressive, gifts for academics – scholarships, programs and buildings – continue to flow in at record levels: $147 million thus far.
“I love the fact that this will be a historic year for both academic and athletic donations,” Anderson said. “It shows that we have broad support on a number of fronts.”
The really good news is that the momentum continues to build. CSU expects to announce several more major gifts in the coming months.
Added Staudinger: “I think there’s a vigor and an excitement that something special, something transformational is happening at CSU. When I look at all of the construction and improvements being made on campus, I can’t remember the buzz being like that when I was in school.