CSU experiences one of highest fundraising years in its history: Donors support research and students during pandemic

Colorado State University’s alumni and friends demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the university’s land-grant mission in 2019-20 by giving to areas that strengthen CSU’s ability to address significant global challenges and care for the community it serves – now and into the future.

In a historic fiscal year distinguished by the inauguration of Joyce McConnell as the university’s 15th and first female president, more than 31,000 donors contributed $175,190,282 – the third-highest fundraising total in CSU history. The unparalleled year also was marked by the sudden effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the university to move all classes online and transition to remote operations.

The only two fundraising totals to surpass the 2019-20 tally were 2016 ($198.7 million) and 2017 (190 million).

The fiscal year, which ended June 30, marked the conclusion of CSU’s State Your Purpose campaign, an eight-year effort to raise $1 billion of philanthropic support for targeted priorities. Having surpassed the goal nearly two years early, CSU carried the campaign to its originally scheduled conclusion in 2020 to align with commemoration of the university’s 150th anniversary, raising $1,282,064,565 in total – more than doubling the money raised during CSU’s first comprehensive campaign, which concluded in 2012 after $537 million was raised.

The final months of the campaign coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating increased need for support of students and infectious disease research.

“This year has presented substantial challenges to our community, leaving virtually everyone impacted,” said Kim Tobin, vice president for University Advancement. “But even in a crisis, our Rams continue to show their strength, their care and their passion for our mission. This commitment has positioned us to address challenges that come our way, including COVID-19.

“Philanthropy translates to ‘love of humankind,’ and through their continuing generosity our donors inspire hope in students, faculty, staff and our entire CSU community,” Tobin said. “Despite the uncertainties in the months ahead, CSU stands ready to move forward thanks to an unshakable Ram spirit that thrives in our alumni and donors.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded across the country, CSU’s supporters demonstrated the true definition of “Rams Take Care of Rams” by contributing nearly $1.1 million in a little more than three months to causes like Ram Aid, Rams Against Hunger and CSU Cares.

The Ram Aid fund provides immediate, emergency support to help students stay in school during a crisis.

“The Ram Aid funds helped me get back on my feet at the beginning of the crisis,” said Fernando Montelongo, a CSU student majoring in construction management who received an award from the fund. “To the Ram Aid donors, I cannot thank you enough for the help you provide for students in need. As a first-generation student, sometimes I feel like I do not belong in a college campus like CSU, but it is always inspirational and comforting to know that there are people that are willing to support me and help me succeed in my college career. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kindness and selflessness.”

Other major funding highlights

A $10 million gift from CSU’s corporate partner, Nutrien, to fund state-of-the-art research and teaching initiatives within the College of Agricultural Sciences. The gift will provide scholarship support to students and will help elevate CSU into a position of leadership in developing a diverse, highly skilled agricultural workforce.

$5 million gift from CSU System Chancellor Emeritus Joe Blake to the College of Liberal Arts, the largest gift in the college’s history. The gift recognizes and supports outstanding, high-quality faculty and students, and will foster leadership and excellence in the College of Liberal Arts.

$1.5 million gift from Leslie Buttorff (’79) to establish the Panacea Cannabinoid Research Center within the College of Natural Sciences. The research center will focus on key challenges in cannabinoid research, including separation efficiencies, formulation of cannabinoids, efficacy testing and the development of standard analysis practices.

“The generosity of CSU’s alumni and friends is as rooted in our history as the amazing trees along the Oval,” McConnell  said. “And this long, proud tradition of philanthropy will position us to continue to educate students, conduct transformative research and serve Colorado and the world for the next 150 years. In this unprecedented time, I am committed to sustain this extraordinary institution, and I know that we can do so alongside our alumni and donors.  Together, we will keep CSU strong, not only for today’s Rams but for the next generation of students and scholars and all those who will follow.”

About State Your Purpose

State Your Purpose: The Campaign for Colorado State University was the University’s first $1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, which attracted transformative philanthropic support for people, programs and places at CSU. The campaign surpassed its original goal 21 months ahead of schedule and continued through June 2020, coinciding with the conclusion of a yearlong celebration of CSU’s 150th anniversary. Read more about donor impact through the campaign at giving.colostate.edu.