The University of Central Florida Foundation had its best fundraising year on record with more than $141 million in gifts and commitments received during fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30. This also was the final year of IGNITE: The Campaign for UCF, which had an historic goal of raising $500 million over eight years. The campaign total will be announced publicly at a celebratory event Oct. 18.

“Our alumni and friends have made this success possible,” says Michael Morsberger, CEO of the UCF Foundation. “There is an excitement, an energy here at UCF that ignites people’s interest and support of this great university. As for the campaign total, I can say it is not a question of if we reached our goal, but rather by how much we surpassed it.”

The significant and steady growth of fundraising activity has caught the attention of others. In June, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), an international professional organization, announced UCF was one of 90 universities to receive the 2019 Educational Fundraising Award. This was the first time UCF received this national honor, which recognizes overall performance and improvement over a three-year span, as determined by a blind review of data submitted to CASE.

“The beauty of this awards program is that we look at the data not knowing what institution is being represented. In showcasing these best-of-the-best programs, CASE helps its members identify institutions doing smart and innovative work from which everyone can learn,” says Sue Kubik, an educational fundraiser who led the judging panel this year.

The IGNITE Campaign had three main priorities:

1) student success, which includes scholarships, fellowships and academic and athletic programmatic support;

2) academic excellence, which focuses on faculty through endowed chairs and professorships;

3) growth and opportunity, such as UCF Downtown and other projects.

“Our donors know that when they make a strategic philanthropic investment in UCF, the resources they entrust to us are being put to the best and highest possible use to help our students, faculty and staff succeed,” Morsberger says. “As a major economic driver in Central Florida and a producer of the exceptional human talent needed to succeed in today’s competitive business environment, we wouldn’t have it any other way.”