A Record-Breaking Year: $121 Million in 2021

The SDSU Foundation shattered fundraising records with $121 million in new commitments in 2021.

The SDSU Foundation secured $121.6 million in new gifts and pledges in 2021, surpassing its previous record fundraising year by nearly $50 million.

The First Bank & Trust Arena project was a major driver for the record fundraising year. The $20 million pledged by First Bank & Trust was the largest single commitment ever made to SDSU. Nearly 30% of the year’s fundraising total related to the renovation of the 49-year-old arena.

This fall’s public launch of Bold & Blue: The Campaign for South Dakota State University also provided momentum for fundraising. SDSU received $35 million in gifts and pledges between the October 21 public announcement and the end of the calendar year.

The Foundation also experienced significant growth in its endowment, which consists of funds that are invested and provide a 4% annual return in support of scholarships, programs, and faculty positions designated by the donors.

The Foundation’s endowment grew by $49 million to $225 million in 2021. A majority of the growth was in the form of new gifts, with the balance as a result of investment performance. The Foundation has adopted the investment model of the South Dakota Investment Council.

About 17% of the total raised were in the form of deferred gifts, with donors involving SDSU in their estate planning.

It was a historic year by virtually every measure. President Barry Dunn and other university leaders have put together a very compelling vision for SDSU’s future, and the launch of Bold & Blue provided alumni and friends with the roadmap for how their investment of philanthropic gifts will impact South Dakota State.

Steve Erpenbach | President and CEO of the SDSU Foundation

Bold & Blue is a people-centered campaign that focuses heavily on scholarships and endowed faculty and research positions. The fundraising goal of Bold & Blue is $500 million, which is twice the amount raised during the university’s last comprehensive campaign from 2004 to April 2013.

All gifts made to the SDSU Foundation count toward the $500 million goal.

The previous high in annual fundraising was $73.2 million in 2020. This year’s fundraising total came from 10,662 different donors.

“We are amazed, but never surprised, by the generosity of our alumni, friends, and business partners. They are the reason why the university and Foundation leadership were confident in setting a comprehensive campaign fundraising goal of $500 million.” - Steve Erpenbach