For a second year in a row, UND has set a fundraising record.

The university’s foundation announced Tuesday, Aug. 11, that fundraising topped $80 million in the past year.

The $80.1 million raised in the 2020 fiscal year, which ended June 30, surpasses the record of $67.7 million that was set during the 2019 fiscal year. Over the last six years the foundation has raised more than $304 million.

“To say ‘thank you’ to our donors hardly seems enough,” said foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink. “They have elevated this exceptional university to a whole new level, and it’s amazing to think that they gave to a record degree even with the coronavirus pandemic striking during the last quarter of the fiscal year.”

Fundraising got off to a “fast start” this year, Carlson Zink told the Herald. By the time UND had to pivot to online learning in mid-March, the UND Alumni Association and Foundation had already raised around $50 million.

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Carlson Zink said donors “stepped up” this year to find ways to support students directly, whether through the foundation’s Angel Fund, which provides monetary support to students in need or through student scholarships.

“People stepped up to help students in need,” said Carlson Zink, noting that, from the moment students had to go to online learning, individuals were calling to offer help. "That was an important part of what happened in April and May and June.”

There was some initial worry at the foundation about how the pandemic would affect fundraising dollars and the foundation’s mission as a whole, but the organization was able to adjust and continue reaching out to donors remotely, Carlson Zink said.

“Our development officers never stopped reaching out to alumni and friends and kept telling the story of the university,” she said.

The foundation has raised $50 million in private donations for a new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration since last year, including the $20 million lead gift from Werner and Colleen Nistler and an additional $30 million in other donations. Those private gifts will be matched by $20 million in state funding. Groundbreaking for the building will take place in October. The city of Grand Forks also is dedicating $1.3 million to the building to create a workforce development center with UND.

“It was just so satisfying and gratifying to have all of those partners come together to make this building a possibility,” Carlson Zink said.

The UND Endowment Fund finished the fiscal year at $278.3 million, which is down slightly from last year. However, the foundation said the annual payout from the fund was a record $9.1 million for UND students. The foundation saw a bump in scholarship donations from the previous year from $12.2 million in 2019 to $18.2 million in 2020.

“I want to express my heartfelt appreciation and sincere gratitude to the alumni and friends of the University of North Dakota who chose to support our university in such a generous manner, especially during these trying times,” UND President Andrew Armacost said in a statement. “This is truly a shining example of what makes UND an outstanding institution.”

The $80.1 million total includes direct gifts, pledges that will be fulfilled over a number of years, non-governmental research grants and legacy gifts in which UND is named in a donor’s will, the foundation said.

Carlson Zink recognizes that the next year will be a difficult time for students as they continue to deal with the pandemic. The foundation plans to continue raising funds for scholarships and other ways to directly impact students.

Additionally, the foundation will set its eyes on its ongoing campaign to make the second phase of the High Performance Center a reality, there is currently no timeline on those efforts. The foundation is also seeking dollars for university research and to support faculty endowments, Carlson Zink said.

At the end of the month, Carlson Zink is slated to give the annual State of the Foundation address. This year’s address, held on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 12 p.m., will be a virtual event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Those interested in attending can register at UNDalumni.org/address.