EMU heartened by contributions amid stressful economy

Total charitable contributions to EMU for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 were $6,069,782, an increase of 15% over the previous year. This is only the second time in the past six years that total giving to EMU exceeded the $6 million threshold.

“We are extremely grateful for the widespread support EMU received in what has been a very challenging economic environment for fundraising,” said EMU president Loren Swartzendruber.

Gifts to EMU’s annual fund – known as the University Fund – totaled $1.73 million compared with $1.85 million in 2008 for a decline of 6.9% in unrestricted support. “The shortfall in annual giving is cause for some concern,” said Dr. Swartzendruber. “However, given the larger picture it is very understandable. A number of our alumni and donor friends have experienced economic hardship, and so naturally some have felt compelled to reduce their support.”

In a show of support for EMU students, 126 faculty and staff made extra contributions during the year to help offset some of the losses in endowment revenue. Together with some 60 alumni and trustees, $128,000 was given and pledged to establish an Emergency Student Aid Fund. Proceeds from this fund will be awarded as financial aid to students during the 2009-10 academic year.

In the area of designated gifts and grants, EMU had one of its best years in the past decade. Nearly $3.4 million was contributed in support of special projects in both the undergraduate and graduate programs as well as for endowment.

According to Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement, EMU received several substantial gifts that made the difference in total giving for the fiscal year. “A gift of $971,000 from the estate of Dr. Paul Hill of Virginia was the single largest gift to EMU this past year,” Shisler said, noting that the Hill gift will support EMU’s endowment fund as well as provide financial aid to pre-med students in EMU’s science program.

EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) received nearly $800,000 in special project support from a variety of sources, including Church World Service, Fetzer Institute, Kellogg Foundation, The Ploughshares Fund and Compton Foundation. Substantial grants were made to other EMU programs as well, including an award of $132,000 from The Virginia College Fund and $117,000 for EMU’s nursing program from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation.

Additional restricted gifts and grants in the $25,000 to $50,000 range benefited EMU’s music and scholarship programs as well as two new programs at Eastern Mennonite Seminary to provide online instruction and an Hispanic studies initiative.

“It is a special privilege to walk with our students as we prepare them to serve and lead in a global context,” Swartzendruber said. “Our mission simply could not be fulfilled without the involvement of those who are excited about what our graduates are doing all over the world.”