Despite a global pandemic, the UConn Foundation — the private fundraising arm that supports UConn — recorded its best year ever on Tuesday after receiving $89.5 million in donations from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. The total of $89.5 million marks a 25 percent increase from the $71.4 million raised in fiscal year 2019 and is the third time the Foundation has raised at least $80 million since 2014.
In his first full fiscal year as president and CEO of the UConn Foundation, Scott Roberts has been able to bring in a substantial amount of donations during difficult times. The historic fundraising total was met with the help of roughly 18,000 donors, which was 4,000 less than in 2019. This means that the average donation was considerably higher in 2020 than the previous fiscal year.
While numerous departments across UConn saw increases in support this year, no entity benefitted more than the department of athletics, which received $26.4 million in donations. This substantial amount is greater than 2018’s donations ($10.4 million) and 2019 ($14.4 million) combined.
With the fiscal year for 2020 starting on July 1, 2019 — basically a week after the Huskies announced they were joining the new Big East conference — it’s not surprising to see an influx in donations. But the department also benefitted from a major gift from an anonymous donor who will bequest $13.5 million to the department of athletics for capital projects. While the timing of this gift won’t necessarily be known, it’s a transformative donation that could potentially be used to renovate an aging Gampel Pavilion or keep the Huskies’ football and basketball practice facilities up-to-date in an effort to remain competitive in the recruiting landscape.
Overall, it’s encouraging to see the Foundation trending in the right direction, especially with UConn suffering financial losses across the board due to fallout from COVID-19. Related to the athletic department, the substantial increase in funds raised shows that fans are continuing to support the department even as it has navigated tough issues like a sustained deficit, cutting sports teams, COVID-19, and moving to a new conference. While it’s unlikely that UConn athletics becomes a donor/booster-centric athletic department like those in the SEC, the money and support from donors and alumni is certainly important to sustained success in collegiate athletics.
At the end of calendar year 2019, the UConn Foundation announced UConn’s endowment was $462.8 million. At this time it’s unclear how much of the $89.5 million raised this fiscal year will be added to that endowment figure.
The full press release and more detailed fundraising breakdown can be found here.
Disclosure: The author worked as an intern at the UConn Foundation in the IT Department from June 2015 to August 2015.