Hillsdale College’s endowment now tops $900 million, following a record-setting year in which the school raised $231 million.
“That pays the bills, keeps the lights on. It pays the salaries,” Vice President for Institutional Advancement Nancy Johnson said. “There are also things like projects, scholarships, etc., that need money raised every single year.
The college received exactly $231,617,535 in the 2020 – 21 fiscal year, which finished on June 30, made up of more than 870,000 gifts from 370,295 different donors. Only about $67 million of that, however, is what the college calls “unrestricted monies.”
At the end of the fiscal year, the total value of the endowment was $906 million. On top of that, the college’s endowment per student stands at around $600,000, the highest such number of any school in Michigan.
Earlier this year, Forbes awarded Hillsdale an A+ in its 2021 College Financial Health Grades, which marks the second consecutive year in which it has received a perfect score.
Only 38 of the 921 colleges that Forbes surveyed received a perfect score. Not only was Hillsdale the only college from Michigan to receive a perfect score, but it is also the only one not to accept government assistance.
“We’re dedicated to our mission,” Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Patrick Flannery said. “We have a strong dedication to adhering to what our donors ask us to do, even after they die.”
Flannery oversees all of the college’s assets, including its day-to-day operations, as well as the Hillsdale College Independence Foundation, the college’s nonprofit organization.
“To me, it’s the expectation of how we should run this place,” Flannery said. “We were given the job to hand it off to the next generation, and it’s our duty to make sure that we hand it off in the best shape possible.”
The other roughly $164 million donated over the last year is restricted by the donor, usually setting the money aside for scholarships, Johnson said.
Two years ago, the college launched the Four Pillars Campaign, which seeks to raise $686.8 million by 2024. More than $260 million is planned for scholarships.
“Our new capital campaign, the Four Pillars Campaign, is named for the four purposes that define Hillsdale’s mission (learning, character, faith, and freedom),” the Four Pillars pamphlet reads. “Its success will ensure the college’s ability to serve these purposes into the future, and to meet the threats and challenges that are sure to come.”
The Four Pillars Campaign promotes the collection of financial aid-focused donations, which was already a top priority for the college, Flannery said. “The vast majority, meaning over half, of the endowment, right now goes to financial aid,” Flannery said. “It’s the number- one priority of the school, to make sure that we have it for students.”
Another reason for the college’s recent financial success was its relatively unique reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year-and-a-half, Johnson said.
“Through the pandemic and all the other social unrest that was happening in the past year, Hillsdale College stood on its principles and didn’t back down,” Johnson said. “It resonated with people or donors who follow the college passionately.”