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Philanthropic support for Grinnell College reaches new heights

Philanthropic support for Grinnell College reaches new heights

Gifts help provide students from different backgrounds access to Grinnell’s traditions of academic excellence, activism, and personal transformation

GRINNELL, Iowa — Alumni and donor investment in Grinnell’s future has continued to gain momentum a year after the College wrapped up its largest fundraising campaign. Total philanthropic gifts and commitments (all outright gifts, pledges, matching gifts, and planned gifts) in fiscal year 2022 – from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022 – reached $33,916,810. That total is 89% higher than the previous year and the largest annual total since Grinnell’s last campaign began in 2013.

Receipts for FY 2022 – one-time gifts, payments on pledges, and realized bequests – totaled $14.4 million, an increase of 35% from the previous year. A total of 7,867 individuals made gifts to Grinnell College during the past year — an increase of 61 unique donors over the previous year. Most of donors (4,660) made contributions totaling $2.03 million to the College’s unrestricted Pioneer Fund. 

The College also welcomed 729 first-time donors, which was more than double last year’s number. Some of the new donors made their first gifts during Grinnell’s seventh annual Scarlet & Give Back Day on April 13–14, when a total of 2,690 Grinnellians gave over $1.23 million within 36 hours.

“The dedication of the Grinnell College community is unbelievable,” says Jaci A. Thiede, vice president for development and alumni relations. “To go from a record fundraising campaign, to nearly $34 million in gifts and commitments the very next year, is extraordinary and a credit to the incredible generosity of our alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends. Thank you for your leadership and dedication to supporting our students and sustaining the Grinnell community in countless ways.”

Supporting a No-Loan Grinnell

Donor support is particularly crucial to the implementation of the College’s no-loan policy, which was announced in fall 2021. Grinnell has eliminated student loans in financial aid packages and replaced them with scholarships, making it possible for many students to graduate without debt. Grinnell is among an elite group of fewer than 10 colleges in the United States that are need-blind, no-loan, and meet 100% of demonstrated need for domestic students.

About 90% of Grinnell students receive financial aid. Students with demonstrated financial need received an average financial aid package of $54,335 in 2021–22. Grinnell awarded a total of $67.5 million in financial aid for the same year.

The College funded the no loan initiative through a reallocation of its operating budget, which is supported by tuition revenue, endowment returns, and philanthropy. In 2021­–22, donors made gifts and commitments totaling more than $6.5 million to support student financial aid.

“The no-loan initiative has reinforced Grinnell’s longstanding commitment for equal access to education,” Thiede says. “It’s uplifting to see our donors embrace this value through gifts for student financial aid. This multicultural and diverse socioeconomic makeup of Grinnellians creates a community that helps open minds and forms new ideas.”


The campus welcomed 1,037 alumni and their family members back to Grinnell in June for Reunion 2022, the first in-person, on-campus Alumni Reunion Weekend since 2019. Two weeks later, 581 young alumni from the classes of 2014–2021 and their guests filled campus with celebration. This one-time Young Alumni Weekendwas designed to be a homecoming gathering for alums who had not been back together on a large scale since their graduations. 

In addition to the main event, Reunion committees also were busy with fundraising efforts. The class of 1972 raised $1.28 million in gifts, pledges, and planned gifts during its 50th reunion year. That total includes $261,621 raised for the new Class of 1972 Endowed Internship Fund. In recognition of its 25th reunion, the class of 1997 contributed $202,396 in gifts, pledges, and planned gifts, including $57,470 for the new Class of 1997 Endowed Scholarship Fund. Overall, 1,191 donors from Reunion 2022 classes collectively gave $7,386,614 in gifts, pledges, and planned gifts.

Two classes that did not have milestone reunions were leaders among all classes with respect to participation and total gifts. For the third consecutive year, the class of 1968 had the highest percentage of participation at 57.1%. The class of 1958 had the highest gift receipt total ($1,616,458), bolstered by a realized planned gift from Joe W. Fell ’58, who had set up the Robert B. Fell 1925 Endowed Scholarship to honor his father.

Gifts and commitments by current and former parents of Grinnell students topped $1.21 million in fiscal year 2022. Meanwhile, alums from the classes of 2011 through 2021 gave $118,618. And 239 College faculty and staff made gifts to Grinnell in FY 2022. 

“It was a great year, and we can’t wait to see what happens next as Grinnellians around the world continue to come together to support our students and strengthen our community,” Thiede says.

Photo Cutline: 

Reunion 2022 attendees conversate during the 55th reunion dinner in June. Reunion was one of several alumni events that returned to campus in 2021-2022. 

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