Recently, Goshen College experienced a rapid rise in donations. The spike for the 2015-2016 school year adds up to more than just a part of an overall growth trend. It involves both the short-term steps of Goshen’s development department and the long-term relationships they have established.“You could say this is 40 years in the making,” Roger Nafziger, GC’s director of planned giving, said of the $9,071,000 total donations.
Forty years is how long Goshen’s development department has fostered a relationship with Milo Albrecht, a perennial donor to Goshen College. Following Albrecht’s passing in the last year, the college received $3 million from his estate for scholarship funds. This huge contribution, compounded with increases in alumni and employee contributions, made possible a 10-year high for overall giving.
Nafziger talked about the importance of working with people on their decision to make
large legacy gifts, stating, “People need to know their resources will go on to help [future generations].”
Albrecht’s generosity is a unique case. Nafziger cited Albrecht’s enduring interest in the college as central to his philanthropy. A GC student in the 1940s, Albrecht never had the chance to finish school, though he desired an education. He was called back to work on his family’s Illinois farm, where he lived until his death. He never married or had children, and his conservative lifestyle allowed him to give away much of his wealth.
Albrecht kept up-to-date with Goshen throughout the years and wanted the institution to benefit others as it had benefited him.
“I’ve seen what [the college] can do for a person, even if they don’t graduate,” Albrecht said in a previous interview with Gordon Yoder, associate director emeritus of college relations. Nafziger pointed to Yoder’s relationship with Albrecht as instrumental in the donor’s continued connection to the college. Yoder began communicating with Albrecht in the 1970s, and Albrecht remained in touch with the development department ever since, cherishing the signs of positive impact his giving had on his beneficiaries.
“Milo always appreciated the thank-you notes he got from students,” said Nafziger. Nafziger also mentioned that while huge donations like Albrecht’s are important, small donations make a big difference too. Money can come from individuals or groups - everything counts.
The money given to Goshen is often donated for a specific purpose or department. For example, Albrecht requested that his money go to nursing scholarships. Last year, designated donations came out to $7,515,238. All other donations go into the Goshen College Fund to be allocated as necessary. This includes items like campus improvements and employee pay raises.
Last year, the total for unrestricted giving was $1,831,888. The development department cannot expect the level of giving they received this year to reoccur in following years, but they plan to continue nurturing long-term donor relationships.