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Ohio State collects $365M in donations in 2012

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

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In the past two years, Ohio State raked it in.
From a record 211,100 private donors, OSU raised $365 million in fiscal year 2012. Paired with other high-profile donations, that $365 million helped make the last two years be the university’s most successful in terms of fundraising.
“In order to fulfill our historic mission of teaching and learning, our university must build a firm financial foundation,” said OSU President E. Gordon Gee in a press release. “Quite simply, private support has become increasingly critical to our ability to provide accessible and exceptional education to the young people of our state and beyond.”
Alumni donated $60 million in fiscal year 2012, with the rest of the money coming from friends of the university.
Aaron Purnell, assistant director of development records at The Ohio State University Foundation, said fundraisers at OSU work year-round to raise the money, and a lot of technology and research goes into finding people who are able to donate.
“They go out there and make a lot of calls to donors,” Purnell said. “They work real hard. We have a research team that identifies prospects that might be able to help us out. They do a good job of listening to what our grads want to support.”
These results showed in the last two fundraising seasons, and Purnell emphasized the importance of the university efforts to keep tuition rates down.
“Every year President Gee says this, we get less and less from the state so it gets more important to supplement to our budget with private resources to keep tuition down,” Purnell said.
Keeping tuition costs down is one way current and future students reap the benefits of private donations.
“A large portion of this money goes to current use funds,” said Doug Plummer, director of Prospect Research and Reporting Services at OSU’s Foundation. “So units can spend the money as soon as they get it.”
Of the money donated in 2012, about $124 million was given to support research, $36 million was given for new buildings and renovations and $45 million was given for student financial aid, such as scholarships, according to the press release. Donors decide how the money from their donations will be spent.
“Almost all of the money is allocated by the donor to some form or another,” Plummer said. “So the donor might have set up a scholarship. There’s not a lot of money where they say, ‘Here, Ohio State, spend it as you will.'”
One reason OSU was able to raise so much is due to the contributions of Granville philanthropists Louella H. and J. Gilbert Reese. They created “The Reese Challenge” in 2010 and agreed to match donations earned up to $10 million. The challenge contributed a total of $21 million, according to the press release.
OSU also received the largest monetary gift in university history in 2010 from Limited Brands founder and former Board of Trustees chairman, Les Wexner. His $100 million donation was included in the record-breaking two-year period.

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