The University of Central Florida received an impressive $81 million in charitable gifts and commitments for the 2018 fiscal year, which ended June 30, thanks to the generosity of 34,317 donors. Their gifts propelled IGNITE: The Campaign for UCF past the $400 million mark on its way to the $500 million goal by June 2019. The 2018 fiscal year fundraising total represents a 30 percent increase over the prior year, making it the best year since IGNITE fundraising started in 2011.

“Achieving the $400 million milestone puts us right where we want to be headed into the final year of this historic effort,” says IGNITE Campaign Chair Rick Walsh ’77 ’83MS HC’14. “These numbers are proof that the momentum we feel is real.”

“These numbers are proof that the momentum we feel is real.”

Walsh emphasizes that donor generosity through the IGNITE campaign has tremendous long-and short-term impacts for the university and its students, and also for Central Florida and beyond.

“Our students, faculty and community are counting on us,” Walsh says. “We’re funding scholarships for students who can’t otherwise afford a college education, giving faculty the resources to conduct groundbreaking research and cure devastating diseases, and enriching lives through the arts with programs like the Shakespeare Theater and WUCF.”

Among the many other endeavors that inspired this record year of philanthropy were the UCF Restores PTSD Clinic, UCF’s Marine Turtle Research Group, the Knights Helping Knights food pantry, the UCF Downtown campus and the John C. Hitt Initiative for Faculty Excellence. Donors also committed $7 million to create five new endowed faculty positions.

“For public institutions, philanthropy is the margin of success,” UCF President Dale Whittaker says. “When we do something exceptional, it’s often because we have friends that believe in us. So the role of philanthropy is more and more critical as we continue to make sure we are carefully stewarding the taxpayers’ money and keeping tuition affordable.”

Among the generous donors that helped make 2018 the most successful year of the IGNITE campaign were:

  • Jim Rosengren ’81 and his wife, Julia, who supported athletics and initiatives in the College of Science and the College of Arts and Humanities
  • The Helios Education Foundation, which invested in UCF’s support of educational efforts in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood
  • FAIRWINDS Credit Union, which donated to the renovation of the John C. Hitt Library in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center and endowed a professorship
  • Walt Disney World Resorts, which contributed to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management
  • “For public institutions, philanthropy is the margin of success. When we do something exceptional, it’s often because we have friends that believe in us.”

    The >Knights’ thrilling undefeated football season kindled additional enthusiasm among donors, who collectively gave nearly $16 million to UCF Athletics. Most of those donations will be used to enhance facilities and go toward the Football Excellence Fund.

    Also noteworthy is a 30 percent jump in membership in the Charles Millican Legacy Society, a group of donors who have taken the extraordinary step of leaving a lasting gift in their wills and estate plans. Collectively, the 31 new members represent almost $7 million in giving.

    In March 2018, the Foundation held its first UCF Day of Giving, a single-day digital effort during which students, alumni and parents support the school financially. The Day of Giving generated $157,000 and attracted a total of 1,951 donors in a single day, with approximately 350 making first-time gifts.

    The IGNITE campaign is focused on raising philanthropic support for the following three areas:

  • Student success, including scholarships, study abroad and career readiness
  • Academic excellence, including efforts to recruit and retain top faculty members
  • Special growth and opportunity projects such as UCF Downtown, the Academic Health Sciences Center at Lake Nona and innovations in environmental sustainability
  • As of June 30, nearly 100,000 UCF alumni, friends and partners have given to the IGNITE campaign.