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UND Foundation sees $40M in donations for fiscal year

DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, discussed the state of her organization Tuesday at an annual address at the Gorecki Alumni Center. The UND Foundation raised about $40 million in fiscal year 2017 and hopes to raise $52 million in the current year. (Andrew Haffner/Grand Forks Herald)

The UND Alumni Association and Foundation pulled in nearly $40 million in donor gifts in fiscal year 2017, according to foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink.

Carlson Zink shared highlights Tuesday from the organization's recent fundraising efforts during an annual address at the Gorecki Alumni Center. During that presentation, she likened the foundation, a nonprofit entity with the task of fundraising for the university, to the eternal flame displayed on the UND campus.

"The (foundation) is that fire burning, but we couldn't have begun to make a difference without the spark that each one of you provides," Carlson Zink told the audience of UND and Grand Forks community members. "Together, we will ignite the future for the students of the University of North Dakota."

For the current fiscal year, the fire could get a lot hotter—Carlson Zink has a fundraising goal of $52 million by the close of fiscal year 2018, which began July 1 and will end June 30, 2018.

That sum would be a significant increase over the foundation gains of the past five years. In the recent fiscal year, nearly 10,000 donors made commitments to the university's alumni foundation. Those commitments led to more than 12,400 gifts, some of which were matched by a total of $3.3 million from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund grant program.

Of the total dollars given to the foundation in the past year, $19 million is earmarked for scholarships and $6.6 million for UND programs and faculty. The alumni foundation provided $6.4 million in scholarship support to UND in fiscal year 2017, a sum Carlson Zink said was an 8 percent increase over the year prior. Total direct funding provided to UND amounted to $20 million, a decrease of $6.3 million from the prior fiscal year.

After the last year of donations, the UND endowment stands at $268.4 million. The endowment has grown considerably over the past five years, gaining $79.2 million since 2013.

The most recent year was a good one for the foundation, which posted a total gain of about $6.6 million in donations over the previous year. However, the sum still marked the second-lowest total of the past five fiscal years. The high bar for that period was 2015, in which the foundation hauled in $48.3 million in new gifts, pledges, grants and other commitments.

Carlson Zink has high hopes for the coming year, as evidenced by the lofty fundraising goal. Some of the year's donations could go to major capital projects on campus such as those outlined in the ongoing Coulee to Columbia overhaul initiative.

That capital series would eye changes for the main campus corridor between the English Coulee and Columbia Road, potentially including significant upgrades to the Chester Fritz Library and the UND College of Business and Public Administration.

Carlson Zink was optimistic after describing the state of her organization and its goals.

"Our donors will help us get there," she said.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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