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University of Alaska foundation celebrates banner year


The University of Alaska Foundation had one of the highest amounts of donations in its history in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The university’s nonprofit arm also saw a spike in individual donors.

The foundation, established in the 1970s to solicit and manage university donations, raised more than $23 million last year $4.7 million more than the previous year.

The only year with a greater total in the past decade was 2001, when the foundation took in $36 million. That year’s bounty, however, was due to a single estate gift the university received that was worth $19 million as part of the late Elmer Rasmuson’s will. That gift aside, the past fiscal year is the foundation’s best ever.

A total of 5,913 individuals and corporations gave to the university last fiscal year. That’s more than 1,000 more than the previous year. The foundation began to see yearly increases in the number of donors in 2004, largely because the university started asking more people for money, said foundation President Mary Rutherford.

“The culture of asking is extremely new here in Alaska and also at the university,” Rutherford said. “There was a time, not very long ago frankly, when some of the campuses did not even have a development office charged with helping grow philanthropic support.”

Now all three of the major campuses have development offices and staff whose sole purpose is to ask people for money.

“It’s not that we haven’t necessarily done it (ask donors for money) before, just not to the scale we are now,” said Becky Lindsey, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ annual giving director. “We’ve definitely ramped up and put more effort into it.”

The University of Alaska heavily relies on corporate donations. In a typical year, between 50 and 60 percent of the money raised by the foundation comes from corporations, Rutherford said.

Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

–Associated Press

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