Donors, alumni set new bar in giving

(Edmonton) Donors are giving to the University of Alberta in record numbers thanks to a surge in first-time donations.

Some 21,700 individuals, foundations and corporations donated to the university in 2011-12, including 5,700 first-time donors. That forward momentum shows the university’s mission is resonating with an unprecedented number who see the value of post-secondary education, said President Indira Samarasekera.

“This remarkable outpouring of support for the University of Alberta is a vote of confidence in our mission to create and sustain a vibrant and supportive learning environment for our students, faculty and staff,” said Samarasekera. “It is a credit to our talented people who are passionately committed to learning, discovery and citizenship and connecting our university to the global community.”

A total of $162.7 million in philanthropic support was recorded this fiscal year—an all-time high in the university’s history. Gifts came from a record number of nearly 20,000 alumni and individual donors.

The university also benefited from a substantial increase in donations from the 12,800 alumni who gave, representing a five-year high.

Chief advancement officer O’Neil Outar said the growth in support corresponds with a surge in demand among alumni who are staying connected to the university through events and programs, and by joining a thriving online community through social media, the UAlberta Email for Life program and other channels.

“We’re finding our alumni want to be more involved, want to know about events happening in their community,” he said. “We’re doing more alumni activities here and outside of Canada, from Hong Kong and Singapore, to London, to New York and San Francisco. Our alumni have responded in impressive fashion.”

The surge in donations comes at a time of economic challenges that have placed pressures on the university’s budget. These new dollars will be used to provide scholarships, bursaries and funding support for faculty, staff and innovative university programs that foster creativity and discovery and make a difference in people’s lives, Outar said.

“It provides a catalyst to innovation, a catalyst for change, a catalyst for ideas—and it helps provide a sense of community,” he said. “Donors allow the University of Alberta to continue to position itself among leading universities in Canada and the world.”