In tough times, EMU alumni, donors show up together

Responding to financial challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern Mennonite University donors and alumni generously contributed over $4.9 million during the 2019-20 fiscal year, and set a new record for annual unrestricted support.

Jasmine Hardesty (right), director of development and planned giving, with a donor at the 2019 Donor Appreciation Banquet.

This financial support is also a gift of hope, said Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement. “EMU exists to prepare our students to lead together now and in the future to create a more just and sustainable future. The generous response of our Royals family, nearly 3,000 donors and alumni strong, says loud and clear that they stand strong with EMU and our mission of preparing students to serve and lead in a global context.”

Donors gave generously to two funds specific to COVID-19 relief:  Nearly $1.8 million for the University Fund for Resilience and approximately $88,000 for the Student Tuition Relief Fund. 

EMU’s LovEMU Day, an annual event in April, shattered records, helping to raise $214, 683 from 732 gifts.

Shisler noted that the record year exceeded the previous year’s unrestricted giving by 8 percent and met division fundraising goals by more than 4 percent.

Nine new endowed scholarships totalling over $700,000 have been established, as well as two direct grant scholarship funds of at least $20,000 each, to support student access to an EMU education.

EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding continues to draw significant donations, including two matching grants totaling $35,000,  to celebrate its 25th anniversary. CJP offers graduate degrees in conflict resolution, transformative leadership and restorative justice, as well as professional training in those topics and other work connected to social and racial justice.

“Our alumni have again shown us through their support that they value how EMU has prepared them to meet and respond to the pressing challenges of this time, and they want to help EMU continue to provide that educational experience to others,” Shisler said. 

Shisler also noted the spirit of generosity among EMU’s board of trustees, faculty and staff, including retirees and “the tenacious, positive work of the Advancement team whose efforts contributed significantly to the positive outcomes.”