August 24, 2020 | News & Stories staff

Calvin University entrance sign

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—More than 18,800 alumni, parents, friends, faculty, staff, and students financially contributed to the work of Calvin University throughout the 2020 fiscal year (July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020). Combined, their generosity resulted in a record-breaking $64.3 million in gifts and new pledges to Calvin.

“Our supporters are extremely invested in the mission and vision of Calvin University,” said Ken Erffmeyer, vice president for advancement. “I’m deeply grateful for their support and for the impact they are having on our students, our faculty, and the future of the institution. Our team has worked hard to honor their philanthropic spirit by matching people’s passions with both the immediate and forthcoming needs of the school.”

Included in the 2020 total were some major gifts—like the $22.25 million donated for a new School of Business and $11 million donated to expand faculty’s ability to shape Reformed Christian thought leadership around the world—as well as smaller gifts dedicated to things such as scholarships and the Calvin Annual Fund.

One specific area of growth came through donor-funded scholarships. The program expanded last year with new gifts and pledges totaling more than $5 million.

Through these scholarships, supporters can customize the impact they have on Calvin students. Awards can be gifted to someone pursuing a particular major, entering a certain grade, or with a specific financial need. In 2019–2020, 1,120 students received support through a donor-funded scholarship, and each year 20 to 30 new awards are added.

“A named scholarship can be the difference maker for a student,” explained Jodi Cole, director of development. “Not only do donors support our students financially, but many provide encouragement to students throughout the year with letters, emails, care packages, Sunday dinners, and mentoring.”

While designated gifts have an immense effect, the unrestricted dollars of the Calvin Annual Fund remain crucial to the university’s fundraising efforts. “Whether it is $5 or $1,000, every gift matters,” said Melanie Lyons, director of annual giving.

In June, the weeklong Calvin Cares campaign rounded out a record year for the Annual Fund. Over five days, 1,152 individuals donated $119,554, pushing the total for the year over $3.6 million.

The Annual Fund fills the gap where tuition dollars stop, and these unrestricted dollars support the areas of greatest need on campus. From arts and athletics to financial aid, faculty research, and student life—this fund affects every student, every day. “What this season revealed is just how committed our community is to the flourishing of a Christian liberal arts education and how much they care for our students, faculty, and staff,” Lyons added.

These record-setting achievements are especially notable as the final months of the fiscal year were marked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The Calvin community came together to ensure we can continue to offer an unparalleled Christ-centered education,” Erffmeyer said. “Unforeseen expenses and lost revenue from the pandemic have impacted Calvin’s budget, but people didn’t hesitate to respond, and we’re so thankful that our donors continue to help meet the evolving needs on campus. We’re excited and expectant as we look to the future.”

About Calvin University

Founded in 1876, Calvin University is a top-ranked, liberal arts university that equips its nearly 3,300 students from 46 U.S. states, 66 countries, and four Canadian provinces to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. Calvin offers 100+ majors and programs, including graduate-level offerings in accounting, education, geographic information science, media and strategic communication, speech pathology and audiology. Calvin students engage in intensive internships, community-based service learning, and significant research that results in publishing and presenting alongside world-class faculty. The university’s 400-acre campus is located in the vibrant city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Discover more at

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