Philanthropic contributions to Furman University in fiscal year 2023 reached $41.6 million, marking the third year in a row that giving topped $40 million, despite downward trends in giving nationally and a challenging economy.
Gifts last fiscal year, which ended June 30, included a $10 million pledge by businessman and philanthropist Ravenel Curry ’63, founder and chief investment officer of Eagle Capital Management in New York, to help renovate Timmons Arena. Maryland Congressman David Trone ’77 also gave $1 million to the Riley Institute, following a $10 million gift in 2022.
“The high level of contributions we continue to receive is a tribute to the Furman community,” said Furman University President Elizabeth Davis. “We have very generous donors who believe in Furman’s direction and the positive impact their gifts have on our students, and the impact the university has on the world.”
On April 15, the university launched Clearly Furman; the Campaign for Our Third Century, with $309 million already raised toward a goal of $426 million by 2026. The campaign total currently stands at $330 million.
Furman relies on charitable giving for a variety of expenses, from student scholarships and faculty support to operating funds and major capital projects like the renovation of Timmons Arena, said Heidi Hansen McCrory, vice president for Development at Furman.
“We have seen a nice response to the announcement of the campaign; donors want to be part of the excitement and success,” McCrory said. “The momentum is good, but we have work to do to ensure this campaign reaches and surpasses the goal. Students still need scholarships and faculty need resources to do the important research and scholarship they do.”
In the fall of 2022, Furman implemented its Pathways program for every first- and second-year student. The program builds a foundation of self-awareness, helping students learn who they are, what they value and where their interests lie. It’s unique in higher education, and it’s part of the value that donors recognize in Furman, McCrory said.
Nationwide, philanthropy is down 3.4 percent, and giving to education dropped 3.6 percent, according to “2023 Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.” Fewer people are giving small amounts, but their dollars are still important, adding up to hundreds of thousands at Furman. But universities, including Furman, increasingly depend heavily on large donations from individuals, like those from Curry and Trone, who see value in supporting a Furman education.
Within six months of graduating, 99 percent of Furman alumni are either employed or in graduate school. Eighty-five percent of students participate in at least one high-impact engaged learning practice: 41 percent do research, 54 percent have internships and 47 percent study away.
“Donors are excited by our students’ level of engagement on campus and their potential to impact society, and they want to be part of that positive impact through their philanthropy,” McCrory said.