Grinnell College philanthropy continues on the upswing

July 16, 2018 — Giving to Grinnell College has continued on a steady pace during the past year thanks in part to a number of invigorating ongoing projects and impactful major gifts.

The total philanthropic commitments in FY18 — from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 — reached $26,525,740.

Receipts for fiscal year 2018 — one-time gifts, payments on pledges, and realized bequests — totaled $17.1 million. That figure is easily the highest since fiscal year 2010, and a 31 percent increase over fiscal year 2017. About half of the receipts have gone to the College’s endowment, with the other half allocated for non-endowment funds.

Raynard Kington
    President Raynard S. Kington

“It’s exceptional to have so much support for the College and our institutional vision for the years ahead,” President Raynard S. Kington says. “Our alumni and friends know that Grinnell is fundamentally about opportunity and responsibility. Students have access to an amazing array of opportunities because of donor support. To see the College achieve our highest level of receipts in quite some time is uplifting.”

In fiscal year 2018, the number of donors remained impressive with 10,015 individuals making gifts. That figure includes gifts from alumni, students, faculty, staff, friends of the College, and parents of current and former students. In all, the College welcomed 804 first-time donors.

The majority of donors (6,435) made unrestricted contributions to the College’s Pioneer Fund. Collectively, this group generated total receipts of $2.33 million.

“The giving spirt continues to be alive and well at Grinnell,” says Adam Laug, Grinnell College director of development. “I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to every donor that contributed during the past 12 months. This generosity benefits our students in countless ways and ensures the College remains a first-rate place to learn, work, and grow.”

Laug said the philanthropic momentum is poised to carry on in the coming year under a new direction in leadership. Jaci Thiede will begin her job as vice president for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations on July 31. Thiede comes to Grinnell from Butler University where she was the vice president for university advancement.

Two workers work on the Humanities and Social Studies Center
Two workers look at the roof  inside the
Humanities and  Social Studies Center atrium

Thiede will oversee an exciting period in development. The new Admission & Financial Aid Center is slated to open in October and the new sections of the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) will be ready for use in 2019. The entire HSSC – which includes renovations to Alumni Recitation Hall and Carnegie Hall – will be finished in 2020. Alumni have already invested in several named spaces inside and outside of the HSSC.

“I’d like to thank Adam and Jayn Bailey Chaney ’05 for serving as interim co-leaders of Development and Alumni Relations,” Kington says. “Their leadership was instrumental in keeping the philanthropic momentum going during the past year.”

Overall, Grinnell received more than 80 major gifts of $25,000 or more through donor commitments in the 2018 fiscal year. Major gifts have included support for career-focused communities in the College’s Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS), endowments establishing professorships in environmental studies and biology, establishment of an endowed fund for athletic excellence, and an investment in the Humanities and Social Studies Center outdoor learning spaces.

“We are grateful to the generosity of many donors that have stepped up to play a crucial role in shaping our future,” Kington says. “Grinnell is growing and evolving in its commitment to academics and community. Some of that growth is clearly visible as you walk around campus, but much of it is programmatic, and happening with the direct support and engagement of our alumni and friends.”

Here are some other highlights from fiscal year 2018:

  • Nearly 2,500 donors made a gift during Scarlet & Give Back Day on April 5, which helped unlock an additional $275,000 from the anonymous alum donor. In total, more than $503,000 was raised in 24 hours.
  • About 1,100 alumni from classes as far back as 1948 returned to campus to take part in Reunion 2018. Attendees were from 45 states, Washington D.C., and five countries.
  • Donors with multi-year Reunion pledges increased by 205 percent compared with the previous fiscal year from 56 to 171.
  • In partnership with more than 140 regional volunteers, Grinnell hosted over 90 regional events to which we welcomed more than 2,250 alumni, students, parents, and friends.
  • Through the 2018 Grinnell externship program, 90 alumni volunteers provided job shadowing externships to 106 students. Both figures increased about five percent from the previous year.
  • The outgoing Class of 2018 donated more than $5,000 toward the senior class gift.
  • Grinnellians worldwide recorded more than 1,300 service hours as part of the 2018 Global Day of Service through 14 group projects and numerous independent service projects. More than 250 alumni participated in the fourth annual event, which celebrates Founders’ Day and the College’s strong commitment to social justice.
  • Grinnell College alumni made and shipped more than 1,350 care packages to Grinnell students.
  • Asian Alliance alumni back on campus for the Multicultural Reunion held Fall 2017.
        Asian American Association alumni
        were back on campus for
       Multicultural Alumni Weekend
    The College held its first Multicultural Alumni Weekend in November. The theme for the weekend was “the power of your individual story can create change,” and vivid examples of the theme played out in alumni conversations all weekend long.
  • The Grinnell Connect mobile app debuted, providing another way for alumni to reconnect with classmates, provide mentorship to students, and utilize the trusted Grinnell community to expand their professional networks. More than 3,500 alumni have registered for Grinnell Connect.
  • GRASP (Grinnell Regional Admission Support Program) volunteers wrote a letter to every incoming member of the Class of 2022.

For your information:

For more information about giving to, or volunteering for, Grinnell College, please call the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 866-850-1846 or send an email to