Donations to Auburn reach historic $200 million milestone

Published: December 18, 2015
Updated: January 07, 2016
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For the first time in Auburn University's history, annual charitable giving by alumni and donors has exceeded $200 million. During its 2015 fiscal year, Auburn received new gifts and commitments totaling more than $202.1 million and experienced one of the sharpest annual fundraising increases in its history.

"This remarkable level of philanthropic support from Auburn's alumni and friends will have a lasting impact on the future of the institution we love," said Auburn President Jay Gogue. "Each and every gift empowers our students and faculty, helps our programs flourish and signals to the world the confidence our donors have in Auburn's mission."

Gifts to Auburn University and Auburn University at Montgomery during fiscal year 2015 continued a three-year trend of record-setting fundraising years, represented a 34 percent increase over the $150.5 million the foundation received during fiscal year 2014 and included support from more than 5,700 first-time donors.

"Our unprecedented success is attributable to our dedicated donors whose gifts of all sizes are propelling our university forward," said Jane DiFolco Parker, Auburn's vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation. "The Auburn Family is indeed unique, and this tremendous response speaks to its commitment to investing in the future of our institution."

While the value of donors' gifts varied widely, contributions across all giving platforms — mail, telephone and Internet — averaged $1,892 per individual gift. Auburn's most significant and transformational FY15 gifts included:

  • a $57 million commitment from John '57 and Rosemary '57 Brown to fund the construction of a new university performing arts center and Samuel Ginn College of Engineering student achievement center, which also represents the largest gift received to date in Auburn's history
  • an $8.5 million anonymous bequest to benefit areas of greatest need within the College of Agriculture
  • an $8 million commitment from Charles '59 and Carol Ann Gavin to renovate the Textile Engineering Building, now known as the Carol Ann and Charles E. Gavin III Engineering Research Laboratory
  • a $5 million anonymous bequest to endow university-wide scholarships


Nearly 30 percent of FY15 gifts and commitments will create new endowments to fund scholarships, professorships and programmatic funds for excellence. Endowed funds are held permanently, managed and invested by the Auburn University Foundation. Their principal continues to grow, and the investment income they produce is used for the purposes designated by endowment donors.

More than 69 percent of the $202.1 million contributed during FY15 came from alumni. As more Auburn graduates contribute, the university's alumni participation rate increases. A college or university's alumni participation rate is one of the key metrics used by U.S. News & World Report and other programs to determine its national ranking.

"Generous alumni support is why Auburn now fosters one of the richest academic experiences possible," Gogue said. "Because of the influence alumni participation has on our national rankings, every gift from the Auburn Family — regardless of the amount — holds tremendous potential to strengthen our position and reputation as a top-tier university."

Auburn's current alumni participation rate of 11 percent is 3 percent higher than the 2014 national average, yet approximately 3 percent lower than the average rate among its SEC peer institutions. Giving programs, like "Tiger Giving Day" on Giving Tuesday in December and year-round phone-a-thon programs staffed by Auburn students, offer all alumni and friends increased opportunities to engage with and support the university.

The public launch of Because This is Auburn — A Campaign for Auburn University in April 2015 also provided momentum to Auburn's success during FY15. To date, the campaign has raised more than $889.5 million toward its historic $1 billon goal. As a result of donors' support of the campaign, Auburn will create thousands of new scholarships for students, endow more than 100 new chairs and professorships for educators and researchers, develop programs that will allow the Auburn Family to connect with people everywhere and build new facilities and reimagine existing campus facilities.

"Each of us has an opportunity through our charitable giving to support areas of Auburn University about which we care deeply," Parker said. "It is up to each of us to enhance the Auburn experience for the generations of Auburn students to come."

The Auburn University Foundation, formed in 1960 and led by a volunteer board of directors, works in cooperation with fundraising professionals in Auburn's Office of Development. Volunteer board directors oversee the foundation's efforts to receive, manage, invest, and steward private, philanthropic gifts to Auburn and Auburn Montgomery. For more information or to make a tax-deductible gift to Auburn, visit because.auburn.edu.