08:19 AM

CSUSM Defies Odds With Historic Fundraising Year

By Margaret Chantung

In a year characterized by philanthropic challenges nationwide, Cal State San Marcos achieved remarkable philanthropic success during the 2022-23 fiscal year, which ended June 30. University supporters donated over $12 million, surpassing the previous record of $10 million raised in 2018 and marking the highest total amount raised in CSUSM’s 34-year history. 

According to “Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy,” considered the seminal publication reporting on the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States, 2022 was one of the worst years in philanthropy history. Charitable giving experienced a 10.5% decline across the country, marking only the fourth time that donations have fallen since Giving USA started keeping track in 1956. Contributing factors to the national decline include inflation and stock market losses. 

Bucking the trend, CSUSM's achievements tell a different story. The university shattered records and set new standards in multiple areas, thanks to the unwavering dedication of supporters. In total, CSUSM saw a 23% increase in total donors and a 20% increase in alumni donors.  

“Such a monumental accomplishment underscores the resolute belief in our mission and the deep commitment of our supporters as the top university in the nation for social mobility,” said Jessica Berger, CSUSM’s vice president of University Advancement. “Our giving success this year was made possible thanks to the unwavering dedication of our supporters, the visionary leadership of President Ellen Neufeldt and the shared commitment to education, student success and student social mobility felt deeply across our campus community, our region and beyond.” 


 More donors contributed on Giving Day 2022 

During CSUSM Giving Day – a crowd-driven online fundraising event that supports areas throughout the university as part of Giving Tuesday – more than $560,000 was contributed in just 24 hours on Nov. 29.  

Among the day’s highlights, CSUSM Foundation Board Director Nathaniel Keifer-Wheals (’09, ’21) made a $100,000 gift in support of a future Integrated Science and Engineering Building 

Notably, most of the 2,500 donations on Giving Day (92%) were $250 or below, allowing a broad range of supporters to contribute meaningfully to CSUSM’s mission. 


Fundraising dinner raises $1 million for student success and social mobility 

Another meaningful fundraising event, the inaugural Blue & Silver Fundraising Dinner hosted on June 9, brought in over $1 million for student success and social mobility programs and initiatives, four times what had been raised at previous comparable fundraising events on campus.  

Co-hosted by Neufeldt and the CSUSM Foundation Board, the Blue & Silver Fundraising Dinner marked a significant milestone as the first major in-person fundraising event in four years, following the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The evening of dining and dancing was capped with an exhilarating raise-the-paddle segment, magnified by the announcement of a generous one-to-one matching contribution from the Epstein Family Foundation as well as the announcement that Carol Lazier, a devoted San Diego philanthropist and community volunteer, would triple her previously committed estate gift to CSUSM from $1.2 million to $4 million—the largest planned gift in the history of the university. 


Notable gifts make an impact 

Additional highlights of CSUSM giving this past year include: 


Defying the odds 

“The fundraising success achieved during the 2022-2023 fiscal year not only defies national philanthropic trends but also serves as a testament to the power of collaboration, visionary leadership and shared goals,” said Steve Wagner, the immediate past chair of the CSUSM Foundation Board. 

Wagner and his wife, Laura, established the Stone Brewing Fund for Social Mobility in early 2022 to support programs and initiatives at CSUSM that improve student college access and success. 

“I am endlessly grateful to every CSUSM supporter, friend, advocate, alum and donor,” Neufeldt said. “Giving is fundamental to supporting and advancing our mission of student success and signals a belief in the boundless potential of our university, our faculty and staff, and our students. As we look toward the future, we do so with the momentum of this exceptional giving year, demonstrating the profound impact that can be achieved when a community comes together to drive transformational change.” 

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314