DNA helix sculpture

The Greatest Fundraising Year in UC Davis History

Donors break giving records across the university

Donors continue to bring nothing but good news to the University of California, Davis, setting giving records to achieve greater impact during a challenging and tragic year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the university raised a historic amount from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021: a record $269.4 million from 36,016 donors, with an all-time high of 63,650 gifts and pledges.

“Our record-breaking fundraising year positions us to build a stronger, greater, more just university,” Chancellor Gary S. May said. “Thanks to our generous supporters and our resilient community, we’re one step closer to making the world a better place for all.”

UC Davis has raised more than $1.3 billion from 102,156 donors during its current comprehensive campaign, and is ahead of schedule to reach the $2 billion goal. “Expect Greater: From UC Davis, for the World” is advancing work to prepare future leaders, sustain healthier communities and bring innovative solutions to today's most urgent challenges. 

Philanthropy for the community

One notable area of giving was to emergency relief. While the pandemic continues to burden the world, 2,234 donors have supported such funding at UC Davis, which now stands at $345,614. These funds help UC Davis Health experts – such as those at the UC Davis Genome Center – set the standard for advanced research, testing and treatment, including administering more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests. The center, which played an integral role in the Healthy Davis Together initiative, drew national attention to the campus effort to provide free and rapid COVID testing for the Davis and surrounding communities. For this and related efforts, in July the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities recognized UC Davis with its first-ever Research Response to Community Crisis Award.

“COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented social and economic challenges, and deep sorrow for people in communities around the world,” said Lin Weaver, a longtime supporter of the college, and a member of its campaign leadership council, which provides guidance and support for the college’s overall fundraising campaign goals.

“But we also became aware of the crucial role that fundamental and free research is playing in our society. The College of Biological Sciences continues to distinguish itself for the relentless work of its dedicated researchers to form a new path forward to a healthier and happier future for all of us. This is why I give.”

Standout gifts

Whether they are one dollar or millions, gifts to UC Davis support areas that mean the most to donors — and, in the process, offer students, faculty and the community opportunities to reach their goals. During the last fiscal year, donors gave a record of 1,037 gifts to the College of Biological Sciences totaling $8.96M, representing deep trust and confidence in the college’s faculty and leadership to continue advancing an array of programs and initiatives that support experiential learning for students, continued innovations in faculty research, campus and community health and more.  

In April of this year, 370 donors supported the college’s Give Day 2021 campaign with donations to challenges in support of each of the college’s five academic departments, four affiliated centers and college-wide programs, scholarships and student awards. The college raised a total of $613,661, with the Center for Neuroscience raising separately $80,060 from 74 gifts. These results more than double totals from any previous Give Day effort. 

Donors make the difference

“We are slowly but surely overcoming one of the most demanding times of our lives and this fundraising record is proof that we’re going in the right direction,” said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations and president of the UC Davis Foundation.

“The shared generosity of our supporters and their trust in our vision is a dream combination for any university.”

The dream is exhibited by impressive philanthropic numbers across the board, starting with the value of the UC Davis endowment, which reached $2.2 billion on May 31. Donors are the most important driving force, including the 54,000 who have given their first-ever gift to UC Davis during the comprehensive campaign.

Campus wide, one donor cohort that set a giving record in the 2020-21 fiscal year is UC Davis employees. Some 2,200 staff and faculty participated in Employee Giving Month in April, donating a total of 3,601 gifts amounting to $257,765 — a 21% increase in participation and 28% increase in the number of gifts from 2019. Over the entire year, a record 3,199 employees gave $1.4 million.

“The last year was a trying time for our campus community, as it was for the world at large,” said Mark Winey, dean of the College of Biological Sciences. “With the support the college received from generous donors at every level, we, like our campus peers, are meeting the challenges of the last year head-on. Whether it is ensuring the immediate health of our community with COVID testing or paving the way for future innovations by training the next generation of scientists, with philanthropic support we are poised to make a lasting impact on the worldwide health and wellbeing of all.”

    Media Resources

    • This story was originally posted by UC Davis
    • Shari Kawelo, Development and External Relations, College of Biological Sciences, sekawelo@ucdavis.edu

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