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:
- Donations from Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch and the Ecke family kicked off the fundraising for a $2.5 million project to expand space in CSUSM’s library for special collections documenting the history of the region.
- San Diego philanthropist Darlene Shiley surprised attendees at the 2023 National Symposium for Academic Palliative Care Education and Research with the announcement of a $1 million gift to help launch the California State University Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care campus partnership exchange. The institute was founded at CSUSM in 2012 and recently marked its 10th anniversary.
- College Futures Foundation, in partnership with the James Irvine Foundation, funded a $350,000 grant to provide support to CSUSM and seven other California State University campuses on a collaboration that will remove barriers to the success of transfer students.
- Nordson Corporation provided the first corporate gift of $300,000 to the future Integrated Science and Engineering Building. This building will be home to many of CSUSM’s rapidly growing STEM programs, empowering student potential and diversifying the future of science and engineering in our region.
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.”
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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