Elizabeth T. Lobendahn (BS ’09) worked throughout college to cover living expenses while she earned a degree in special education. Her goal, to teach persons with severe disabilities, got an appreciated boost when she received a scholarship funded with donations from alumni and friends of the university. To those who made her education possible, she says, “Your generosity was an answer to my prayers.”
Judith Sartowski (’11), a student from Germany majoring in marriage, family, and human development, is on a team interviewing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lived in Germany during World War II. The massive research project, funded in part by donors to the BYU Annual Fund, is giving Sartowski and others the opportunity to gather stories and materials that have never been shared beyond the German members’ families. “It has made college life active instead of theoretical,” she says.
And with funding provided in part by donors, master’s of public health student Ryan P. Lindsay (BS ’05) studied street children in the Philippines. He hopes his findings will promote the health and safety of underserved children.
These three students and many others from every college have had their BYU experiences enriched by the generosity of donors to the BYU Annual Fund, which exists to facilitate regular giving to the university.
“We are gratified that so many of our alumni give to BYU,” says David J. Smith (BA ’02), director of the BYU Annual Fund. In 2008 more than 46,000 graduates gave to BYU. According to the national Voluntary Support of Education Report, BYU ranks near the top for alumni giving among universities with more than 300,000 alumni.
Donations to the Annual Fund exceeded $5 million in 2008. Of that:
• 55 percent went to university-wide priorities, including mentored-student learning,
• 39 percent was divided among the university’s colleges and schools to fund student-focused programs and projects, and
• 6 percent went to the university’s general scholarship fund.
University fund-raising priorities are reviewed by the Board of Trustees, chaired by President Thomas S. Monson. No administrative costs are deducted from donations, meaning that 100 percent goes to the intended priority.
“We want donors to be connected for good with the university,” Smith says, noting that donors who make gifts every year are especially appreciated. “These gifts indicate a level of confidence in the institution.”
Smith concludes, “A small donation may seem no more significant than a drop of rain. But add that drop to thousands of other drops, and pretty soon you have a flood. In the same way, many donations combine to make a significant difference.”