George Mason University recorded its second-highest fundraising total ever in 2020, as donors contributed nearly $118.1 million in gifts and pledges over the fiscal year that ended June 30.
That figure nearly matched last year’s record of $125.4 million, which included an extraordinary one-time $50 million bequest to the Antonin Scalia Law School.
Support was widespread, with a total of 11,779 donors, the highest number in the past five years, contributing to hundreds of different programs and causes. Nearly half of those donors (5,083) are alumni, a slight increase over last year.
“We are grateful to each and every donor who makes a gift,” said Trishana Bowden, vice president of advancement and alumni relations and president of the George Mason University Foundation, the non-profit foundation that receives and administers private gifts made in support of the university. “Every gift is a personal statement in support of Mason’s mission of uniting access with excellence.”
The most popular area for giving in 2020 was research, representing 57% of the total, followed by student support, such as scholarships, at nearly 24%.
Also noteworthy was a record jump in faculty and staff giving, with 948 individuals contributing a total of $6.8 million, up from 827 individuals who gave $1.87 million in 2019. (As recently as 2016, faculty and staff giving accounted for just $660,000 from 385 donors.)
The great majority of charitable gifts received at Mason are designated by the donor for a specific purpose or program. When looked at by unit or program, giving for the Mercatus Center, a non-profit research center at Mason, led the way at $55.9 million, which includes more than $20 million for the center’s new FastGrants program for Covid-19 research. The School of Business received more than $17.7 million in gifts and pledges, a total that includes software licenses for students donated by UiPath, an in-kind gift valued at $16.4 million. Scalia Law and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, respectively, had the next-highest totals.
With the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in early March, student emergency assistance became an urgent priority for donors. Over the next four months, 2,462 donors contributed nearly $500,000 to directly help students in need. Combined with other university funds such as the Stay Mason fund, Mason provided more than $2.5 million in emergency support to nearly 2,400 students from March through June.
Recognizing these achievements in philanthropy, in June Mason once again was selected to receive a 2020 CASE Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Performance. CASE is the leading national organization recognizing excellence in university-based fundraising programs. Mason was one of just 12 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the additional “Sustained Excellence” designation, based on maintaining a high level of performance over a period of five years.
Rob Riordan / August 24, 2020