Anonymous Donor Offers $25 Million Matching Gift to St. Thomas

An anonymous donor has offered $25 million to St. Thomas as a matching grant, the largest such gift in the university’s history.

If fully capitalized, the grant and the contributions that it matches will add $50 million to the Opening Doors capital campaign and bring its total to at least $440 million – or 88 percent of the campaign’s $500 million goal.

“This is an extraordinary gift,” said Father Dennis Dease, president. “It also presents a singular opportunity for alumni and friends to double their gifts for twice the impact. Chances such as this are rare, and we are confident that benefactors will want to take advantage of this remarkable offer.”

Early indications are that benefactors indeed are attracted by the matching gift. As of today, Sept. 7, St. Thomas has received gifts and pledges totaling more than $5 million in qualifying commitments. This represents 20 percent of the $25 million match.

Overall, the Opening Doors campaign to date has raised $400,350,311 in gifts and pledges.

The School of Law will be eligible for $12.5 million of the matching gift, $5 million will be set aside to match scholarship gifts for undergraduate and graduate students, and the remaining $7.5 million will match gifts to any other campaign priority, department or program at St. Thomas.

All gifts and pledges must be made by March 1, 2011, and will be matched on a first-come, first-served basis until the $25 million is fully committed. Of the $25 million total, $1 million has been designated to match gifts of $1,000 to $24,999 and pledges of at least $1,000 a year for up to five years. The other $24 million in matching funds will require gifts and pledges of $25,000 or more. Within these guidelines, there is no upper limit on the size of a single gift that will be matched.

“The terms of the matching gift present an almost unlimited number of options,” Dease said. “People may give to scholarships, academic programs, endowed professorships, building projects, student clubs and organizations, athletic teams … the list goes on.”

The matching gift will provide a special boost to the School of Law’s already-successful fundraising efforts. Last year, for the second consecutive year, the School of Law led the nation in percentage of alumni contributing to their law school alma mater, at 55 percent.

Opening Doors’ largest single goal – $130 million for financial aid – also will get a lift from the matching gift. About half of that amount has been raised since the campaign began several years ago.

Steve Hoeppner, executive director of development, pointed out that some gifts have the potential to be tripled – not just doubled.

“Many people work for companies that match employee gifts to charitable organizations,” he said. “In situations like that, a $1,000 gift from an individual would be matched both by his or her employer and our anonymous donor, for a total of $3,000.”

More information about the matching gift is available on the Opening Doors website.