Cornellians’ giving, engagement play key roles in university success

Alumni, parents and friends gave to Cornell in significant amounts during fiscal year 2018, setting fundraising records and engaging with the university in many other ways. By volunteering, giving financial support and staying connected online, Cornellians made July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018, one of the most successful years ever for philanthropy and participation.

The university received $512 million in new gifts and commitments, including approximately $436 million raised for the Ithaca and Cornell Tech campuses and $77 million for Weill Cornell Medicine. Gifts to Cornell Annual Funds totaled $44.4 million, surpassing the FY17 record of $41.7 million. A record 79,000 donors contributed to these results.

“I am incredibly grateful for the support of so many Cornellians and proud of what we achieved together this year,” said Fred Van Sickle, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “Alumni, parents and friends play a key role in giving the university the resources needed to fulfill our mission of learning, discovery and engagement. By staying connected, Cornellians are a family around the world.”

An impressive number of Cornellians – more than 85,000 – engaged with the university in FY18 through activities including volunteering, returning to campus, and participating in local Cornell alumni events and virtual online experiences.

“A fabulous Homecoming celebration in October 2017 and a record-breaking Reunion in June bookended a fantastic year for getting and staying involved with the university,” said Michelle Vaeth ’98, Cornell’s new associate vice president for alumni affairs.

A highlight of alumni and family participation occurred in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, when more than 1,000 alumni, family members and friends gathered at the National Museum of African American History and Culture to celebrate the museum, the Cornell community, and the university’s founding principles of inclusion and diversity.

“Alumni are discovering the value in connecting with the university and with each other both back on campus or where they are, virtually or in person,” said Vaeth. “I will be excited to see even more alumni – parents and friends, as well – get involved in the future, in even more ways.”

More than 11,000 participated in Giving Day 2018 on March 20, raising more than $7.8 million for the university’s colleges, units, departments and programs in one 24-hour period, a record. Donors chipped in from 50 countries and all 50 states, creating a strong social media presence, as well. Student involvement in Giving Day – with 2,400 contributing – doubled from the previous year.

“Our tremendously successful Giving Day and the outstanding support for our annual funds this year highlight one of the keys to our success,” said Ben Renberg, senior associate vice president for alumni affairs and development. “Cornellians are passionate about causes that matter, and each gift advances the teaching, research and outreach that go on here every day.”

One standout commitment bolstered fundraising success during FY18, said Van Sickle. A $50 million investment from Tata Consultancy Services, continuing the tradition of philanthropy to Cornell driven by trustee Ratan Tata ’59, B.Arch. ’62, finished the first phase of capital development for Cornell Tech.

“This year’s phenomenal support shows us how much our alumni, parents and friends care about the university and all the good it does in the world,” said Gary Davis ’76, co-chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees Committee on Development. “I am optimistic about the university’s ability to continue and increase its mission thanks to thousands of generous, connected Cornellians.”

Kate Klein is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.

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