Steadfast Support

The university again exceeds $100 million in philanthropic gifts for fiscal year 2019-20

Amidst the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, UC Santa Barbara raised $100,022,411 in new gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2020 — the sixth consecutive year the campus has received more than $100 million in philanthropic donations.

UC Santa Barbara’s annual fundraising average is over $122 million for the same six-year period. The university’s endowment now stands at $434 million (as of June 30, 2020), an all-time high for the campus.

Similar to a retirement account, the endowment is comprised of investments that help sustain the university over the long term; the funds cannot be withdrawn for immediate, short-term needs. In fact, the vast majority of all gifts and endowments — this year more than 95% at UC Santa Barbara — are donor restricted for a specific purpose or area. As such, they cannot be used or redirected for operational use by the campus, including for budgetary shortfalls, student support or other uses.

“We deeply appreciate the vision, guidance and generosity of our donors, especially during this pandemic time,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “Private philanthropy helps us to meet our educational mission and fosters innovative research and teaching by top faculty. To highlight just one example of the impact of this support, our campus was ranked No. 6 among national public research universities this year by U.S. News & World Report. A UC Santa Barbara education transforms the lives of our students and helps them to make meaningful contributions personally and professionally, both locally and across the globe. We sincerely thank all of our partners and supporters for inspiring us, encouraging us and joining with us to advance this proud legacy.”

A fundraising need unforeseen at the start of the year — COVID-19 — became a sudden priority by spring, underscoring the critical role and importance of philanthropy to the campus. It also highlighted the engagement and advocacy that such support represents, as well as the compassion and ingenuity of the UC Santa Barbara community.

Launched in response to the virus, the #UCSBTogether campaign in the last quarter of the 2020 fiscal year raised more than $1 million in COVID-related funding needs, including research, remote instructional technology, health and safety and student support.

Funding for student support overall is, perennially, a key priority for the campus and increasingly for the UC Santa Barbara Foundation Board of Trustees — represented by nearly $12 million raised in 2019-2020.

Multiple generous donations for student support this past fiscal year include $3,000,000 for undergraduate scholarships in the College of Engineering; $500,000 for UC Santa Barbara Promise Scholars — high-achieving, low-income Californians selected for four-year scholarships to UC Santa Barbara in a unique program created by the campus; and $500,000 to support undergraduate field studies scholarships in environmental studies. A gift of $400,000 will fund athletic scholarships for undergraduate students, while another $400,000 will support graduate fellowships in ocean research at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

“I’m most grateful for our trustee and donor support of our amazing students, both for undergraduate scholarship and graduate fellowship awards, as well as internships and other special student opportunities this year,” said Betty Elings Wells, chair of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation board, who conceived the Student Advantage Initiative to support the needs of undergraduate and graduate students. “Our students exemplify the best in us, and such support helps ensure they have the opportunities they need and deserve to succeed. I am always impressed with how the students are so appreciative of the help we have given them and how it will help them succeed at UCSB.”

For all areas — research and discovery, teaching and students, public service, programs and initiatives — donations of all sizes provide crucial help in advancing the mission of UC Santa Barbara, where individual gifts of $10,000 or less accounted for more than 92% of all gifts raised in the 2020 fiscal year.

Of the total number of gifts received in fiscal 2020, 45% came from alumni, representing nearly $13 million. More than $48 million was given by individual donors, $35 million from foundations and $16 million from corporations.

UC Santa Barbara received 19 leadership gifts of $1 million or more in 2019–2020, accounting for almost 50% of the year’s fundraising totals. Among the most significant: a $10 million endowment gift for the College of Engineering; two gifts totaling $8 million for the Benioff Ocean Initiative’s River Plastics Project; and a $1.5 million gift to support quantum science research and programming.  

Planned and estate gifts continue to play an increasingly important and growing role in fundraising at UC Santa Barbara. The university garnered 48 new legacy gifts in 2019-20, the largest number of estate commitments in any single year and an increase of 41% over the previous year.

“The university is incredibly grateful for the support of our alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff,” said Chris Pizzinat, executive director of development. “The impact of their philanthropy cannot be overstated — it allows our students to thrive, our faculty to deliver meaningful instruction, and our researchers to further discover new knowledge and breakthroughs. We thank our supporters for their generosity, dedication and unwavering resolve to advance our mission.” 

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