One Final Push: Anonymous Alumni Family Bolsters Capital Campaign

Gustavus Adolphus College, a liberal arts school in Saint Peter, Minnesota, recently received a $25 million gift from an anonymous alumni family based in the Twin Cities area. The gift is the largest single donation in the school's history, and will be used to finish a $65 million renovation and expansion of the school's Alfred Nobel Hall of Science and upgrade its facilities to "better prepare students for careers in the physical sciences and health."

While we don't know the name of the family behind the gift, we do know a bit about them, and that they have the kind of potentially big-giving profile we talk about all the time at Inside Philanthropy. For one, we know that the family consists of long-time Twin Cities entrepreneurs. Further, the family has a past record of giving at Gustavus Adolphus College and counts a total of five family members as Gustavus Adolphus College alumni.

We often talk about the strong forces that motivate an alumni couple to give big, drawn by double the amount of loyalty to a school. In this case, this family's ties to Gustavus Adolphus College span five family members and a past history of giving to the school. While we don't know the exact combination, here, families with kids and even grandkids who've all gone to the same school are a particularly potent mix.

The college's vice president for advancement said of these personal forces that "the family has shared with me their deep appreciation for the quality of education and meaningful personal relationships their children experienced at Gustavus, and they are honored to be able to give back in a way that will help so many others pursue that same life-changing opportunity."

Another element here is timing. The college is in the midst of a $150 million campaign that will end next month in September. I've often written about the ways in which donors are motivated to give at the start of a campaign in order to inspire others to give and get the campaign started with a big push.

Related: How One Alums' Big Pledge Influenced Another Alum to Give Big: A Case Study

But it's also important to remember that the tail ends of campaigns can also be a prime time for donors to give, to help a particular campaign reach its goals and get the most out of a fundraising push.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Gustavus was recently ranked third-highest in the nation among liberal arts colleges as the baccalaureate origin of physics PhDs. Yep, STEM is still on the minds of many.