The University of Nebraska received $320.4 million in philanthropic gifts and commitments in fiscal year 2020, compared to $290.5 million the previous year. The gifts came from 53,355 individuals and organizations and represents a record year for new funds committed.
Benefactors designated gifts to various university priorities that ensure affordability, accessibility and workforce development. New gifts supported students in the College of Business Administration and College of Information Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, students in biology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, undergraduate student researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and nursing students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In all, the University of Nebraska awarded privately funded scholarships to more than 10,000 students in the fiscal year.
Significant private support was received for the College of Engineering, the state’s only engineering program, which will continue to contribute to workforce development efforts. The first phase of an engineering expansion project is being funded largely by a deferred maintenance package approved by the Legislature and governor.
Contributors supported COVID-19 relief efforts, including support for the Nebraska Medicine Employee Emergency Assistance Fund, the purchase of additional personal protective equipment for health care workers at Nebraska Medicine, the University of Nebraska Emergency Assistance Fund and a campaign to support the production of hand sanitizer at UNL. The sanitizer was made available to first responders and others across the state.
The foundation’s endowed assets under management totaled $1.7 billion at the end of fiscal year 2020. The largest portion of the endowment, referred to as Fund A, had a value of $1.3 billion. The foundation also manages an endowment, referred to as Fund N, through an agency agreement with the university for gifts made directly to the university. Fund A and Fund N plus several smaller endowments make up the total $1.7 billion in endowed assets for the University of Nebraska.
The return for Fund A was -1.3% for the year. The three-year return was 3.3%, the five-year return was 3.7% and the 10-year return was 6.7%. While long-term returns since inception of the endowment and over the 10-year horizon remain competitive with benchmarks, the returns have trailed benchmarks at one, three and five years. To learn more about steps the foundation and its Investment Committee have taken to improve performance and for other endowment related information, please see the Endowment Report.