UI Foundation receives more gifts, fewer large donations


Lily Katz

The University of Illinois Foundation can be found in Harker Hall on the northeast side of the Main Quad. August 17, 2016

By Megan Jones , Staff Writer

Donations to the University of Illinois Foundation dropped 10 percent during the last fiscal year, totaling $224.7 million.

Donations reached $224.7 million in cash gifts, pledge payments, annuities and estate distributions for fiscal year 2016, according to Walter Knorr, treasurer of the foundation. The $224.7 million includes gifts to all three University system campuses. In 2015, donations hit $251.5 million and $259.5 million in 2014.

“We are very fortunate we have a large donor base that cares deeply about the University and we’ve (had) another pretty good year,” said James Moore, president and CEO of the foundation.

He said despite the drop in donations, the University has processed more gifts this year than ever before with a 1 percent increase in the number of gifts with 159,256.

“This is more than we’ve processed in the year before and some years you just don’t get as many of the big gifts,” he said.

Donors designated the following amounts: $61.6 million for research, $32.4 million for academic programs, $29.2 million for student support, $19.9 million for facilities, $12.2 million for public service, $5.2 million for faculty support and $4.6 million for other areas, according to a news release.

$59.6 million was designated for unrestricted use to either a campus, college, department or program. Use of the funds is up to the dean or unit head.

The University system’s combined endowment also dropped from $2.5 billion in 2015 to $2.43 billion this year. In part, this is due to the impact of the “Brexit” vote in June.

“We have a globally diverse fund with investment positions in Europe and around the world that were impacted by the global economy. It was a global economic event and it wasn’t just us, every university endowment fund in the country’s portfolio probably had a similar response,” he said.

Since the University is a long-term investor and hopes to make long-term returns, portfolios can move up or down each quarter significantly, especially with global events, he said. The fund is now up seven percent three months later.

Moore said the foundation is not doing anything different than past years during the state budget impasse, and they continue to try to reach out to alumni, friends, corporations and community members.

“We are committed every year to making sure all of our donors know how great the University of Illinois is and what a terrific investment we are,” he said.

The foundation has worked with the University for 81 years to secure and manage private gifts from donors. The fiscal year ended June 30 and was announced on Oct. 7 during the Foundation’s annual business meeting.

“Private giving helps the University of Illinois System remain world-class,” University President Tim Killeen said in a news release. “It is the foundation of academic and research excellence that makes our three universities key engines of progress, providing the workforce and innovation of tomorrow, and I am deeply grateful to our generous donors for their loyalty and support.”

[email protected]