Donors Match $25 Million Challenge Grant

The University of St. Thomas has achieved an anonymous donor’s $25 million matching grant challenge – and with nine hours to spare.

Facing a midnight deadline, the Development Office hit the target of $25 million in eligible gifts and pledges at 3 p.m. Tuesday, culminating an eight-month effort and increasing the amount raised in the Opening Doors capital campaign to $440 million.

“This is an extraordinary show of support from our alumni and friends,” said Father Dennis Dease, president. “It demonstrates both their loyalty to the university and their willingness to participate in this historic fundraising effort. I am grateful for, and I am humbled by, their generosity.”

Donors needed to contribute $1,000 or more to be eligible for the match. St. Thomas received 911 gifts ranging between $1,000 and $1 million from more than 800 donors, meaning some donors made multiple gifts. About 230 programs on campus received funds.

“Our success shows the power of a matching gift,” said Steve Hoeppner, executive director of development. “The gift allowed us to generate tens of millions of dollars that otherwise would not have been contributed to St. Thomas.”

Hoeppner cited 33 new endowed scholarships as a perfect example of the matching gift’s leverage. St. Thomas now will have 389 endowed scholarships.

 “We knew many people who wanted to endow a scholarship but were intimidated by the $50,000 cost,” he said. “As a result of the matching gift, they could endow a scholarship with gifts of $5,000 a year over five years because the money would be matched.”

Final numbers still are being tabulated and are subject to change, but highlights of the fundraising effort include:

  • Of the $25 million in contributions, $6.3 million is in scholarships, $5 million goes to the School of Law and $13.7 million is for other Opening Doors priorities. These include construction of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex and the Anderson Student Center and support for colleges, schools, academic programs, athletic teams and student organizations.
  • About $2.8 million is in gifts between $1,000 and $24,999 and $22.2 million is in gifts of $25,000 and above. There are 170 donors who made new five-figure commitments, 28 have new six-figure commitments and seven have new commitments of $1 million or more.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the funds – $15.6 million – came in cash gifts or pledges payable over five years. The balance of $9.4 million is in estate gifts, and those benefactors will become members of the William and Elizabeth Finn Heritage Society. There will be at least 31 new Finn Society members this year, exceeding last year’s record of 26.
  • The 800 donors include 161 new donors and 489 repeat donors who increased their gifts to qualify for the match. Most of those 800 donors are individuals who will be eligible for membership in the President’s Council, which last year recorded its highest membership level at 757 people.

Hoeppner congratulated the Institutional Advancement Division, including staff members in the Development, University Relations, and Alumni and Constituent Relations departments, for their hard work over the last eight months. “It was a true team effort to accomplish this goal,” he said.

He also thanked St. Thomas students for providing the inspiration for everyone to reach the goal.

“Our students are a constant reminder of the life-changing nature of college years and the incredible value of the St. Thomas experience,” he said. “They motivate people to make this experience available to students of all financial backgrounds and for generations to come.”