Eastern Kentucky University Closes Second Highest Fundraising Year

Published on September 06, 2022

Eastern Kentucky University experienced its second-highest fundraising year with $9,684,818 in total commitments this fiscal year—just shy of last year’s $9.9 million record-breaking year. Commitments were provided by nearly 10,000 donors with over 1,600 first-time donors. 

“Our EKU giving community continues to go above and beyond, allowing us to reach new heights in our culture of philanthropy,” said EKU President, Dr. David McFaddin. “It is humbling to see so many alumni and friends make a gift to this university in support of our students. Donors—your belief in our mission is critically important, and we sincerely thank you.”

While the number of new pledges slightly decreased, the dollar amount quadrupled from the previous year. Twice as many planned gifts provided a $500,000 increase, while cash gifts decreased from $6.4 million to $5.3 million. 

Betina Gardner, vice president for university development and alumni engagement and executive director of the EKU Foundation, expected that matching the previous record-setting $9.9-million year would be a challenge, especially with last year’s single largest gift in EKU history—$2.5 million from the estate of Karen Ann Hawkins. 

“Our donors met that challenge and achieved the second-highest fundraising year in EKU history. It’s clear that our community is committed to student success,” said Gardner. “In addition to our generous donors, the efforts of staff, volunteers, alumni and community partners were instrumental to this success. Our students will greatly benefit as this will lighten the financial obligation and allow them to focus on their higher education goals.”

A major factor for the successful year was the annual fund. There were 9,958 donors who provided $2.5 million, representing a 19.8 percent increase in dollars and a 4.5 percent increase in the number of donors. The third annual Giving Day, which took place on April 13, 2022, continued to break records with nearly 2,400 donors providing total contributions in excess of $396,000. More than $160,000 in challenge gifts was unlocked by donors, providing additional support for colleges and funds across campus. There were 530 first-time donors on Giving Day. The Student Assistance Fund for Eastern (SAFE), created to assist students during the pandemic, continued to support students in need with $15,000 in awards.

Part of the annual fund efforts was The Pay It Back to Pay It Forward campaign led by McFaddin, ’99 ’15, and his wife, Melissa, ’02, created to generate support for the General Endowed Scholarship fund. They pledged to contribute the amount of the scholarships they received while they were students at EKU and encouraged others to join them. More than 500 donors gave over $78,000 to the scholarship, exceeding the campaign goal of 500 gifts before July 2022. 

“Melissa and I have a deep understanding of the importance of financial aid via scholarships. When I began thinking about the generous donors who selflessly give so others can thrive, I began thinking about the donors who made my EKU experience possible,” said McFaddin. “I felt it was time to pay this back via donations so students could receive the support that I did.”

The total number of scholarships awarded exceeded 2,000 for the first time with 2,051 awards totaling $1.7 million, compared to 1,995 awards totaling $1.3 million last year. Each scholarship provided represents a student who is now one step closer to completing their degree and giving back to their community.