Increase comes as national donations to colleges and universities drop slightly

Coronavirus pandemic-addled 2020 sent learning off-kilter at Norwich University; classes went virtual and the campus endured a COVID-19 case spike and in-room quarantine. The pandemic also sent money donations to colleges and universities down nationally, if ever so slightly. Nevertheless, Norwich University fundraising perked merrily along, surpassing its fiscal 2021 goal by more than $1 million.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s annual giving survey showed 2020 gifts to colleges and universities was $49.5 billion, down 0.2% from $49.6 billion a year earlier. Inside HigherEd, which cited the February survey, said the donation drop was the first in a decade.

On June 1, 2020, Norwich University set a $9 million goal for fiscal year 2021, which ended this past May 31. The Development Office reported about $10.6 million raised from 4,330 donors for fiscal 2021.

As Inside HigherEd reported, the council’s survey showed gifts from nonalumni donors, who include parents, rose 4 percent in fiscal 2020 from a year earlier, although aggregate giving from alumni, corporations and foundations fell.

Although education giving was flat, overall charitable giving rose 5.1% in 2020, rising to $471 billion from $448 billion in 2020, the nonprofit Giving USA Foundation reported. The foundation leveraged Internal Revenue Service tax data for 128 million U.S. households and other surveys to reach its conclusion and cited a strong stock market (the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 16.3 percent in 2020) as helping to drive the increase.

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Giving Day on April 22, which featured a slate of panel discussions livestreamed from Mack Hall, raised more than $1 million. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

Goal set, goal exceeded

On June 1, 2020, Norwich University set a $9 million goal for fiscal year 2021, which ended this past May 31. The Development Office reported about $10.6 million raised from 4,330 donors. Giving Day on April 22, helped close fiscal 2021 on a high note, bringing in $1.01 million, which the tracker on givecampus.com said was 20% over goal.

Giving Day 2021, which featured a livestreamed show from Mack Hall with panel discussions and a drink-making lesson from President Dr. Mark Anarumo, aimed to boost affordability as pandemic-triggered furloughs and layoffs destabilized household budgets and raised anxiety nationwide. It raised money for four scholarships — women, students of color, post-9/11 heroes and active-duty Special Forces (College of Graduate and Continuing Studies).

Shoulder-to-Shoulder, launched Oct. 3 at Homecoming, raised $12.5 million as of May 31. The total surged about 78% in just six months, rising from $7 million in January.

The university hopes Shoulder-to-Shoulder, which supports the Norwich Fund, scholarships, technology endowment, academic enhancement and planned giving, will raise $28 million by May 2023.

“Shoulder-to-Shoulder underscores the power of community,” Norwich Senior Director of Development Lindsay Budnik said. “The success of fiscal year 2021 is a testament to our many students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and community partners. These diverse entities — representing different generations and different walks of life and a range of interests — stepped forward in support of Norwich’s future. That solidarity is what Norwich is all about.”

Shoulder-to-Shoulder progress

Here’s the progress report for Shoulder-to-Shoulder’s priorities through May 31.

  • Norwich Fund, $3,045,351 toward a $9 million goal
  • Scholarships, $6,520,566 toward a $10 million goal
  • Planned giving, $1.92 million toward $7 million goal
  • Academic enhancement, $976,325 toward $1 million goal
  • Technology endowment, $35,458 toward $1 million goal


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