Sage Posts Record-Breaking Fundraising Year Against All Odds

July 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm
By Jamie Tario

Troy, N.Y. -- The Sage Colleges has exceeded all expectations for fundraising this year despite the challenging economy and sharp drops in giving to colleges across the nation. Sage raised a total of $7.4 million, including annual giving; an endowment challenge; corporate, government and foundation giving; and other major gifts.

Matching gift challenge met, $1.5 million gift doubled

Sage successfully met - and exceeded - a $1.5 million match challenge made in January by board chair and Russell Sage College alumna Donna Esteves. Sage raised $1,696,000 by the June 30 deadline to secure the matching gift and raise the endowment by $3.2 million.

The source of the challenge was anonymous until June 5, when Esteves was revealed as the donor at her 40th Reunion. She had initially offered $1 million in January if Sage could get donors to match that amount by June 1. When Sage accomplished that in May, she was so impressed that she extended the challenge to include an additional $500,000 if matched by June 30.

"I am so thrilled that Sage met my extremely ambitious challenge, and that I was able to help this institution with so much to give, get the 'biggest bang for the buck,'" Esteves said.

This gift and challenge raises Sages endowment from $25 million to $28.2 million in just six months. A well-funded endowment provides a solid financial foundation even during challenging economic times. The endowment fund is managed so that five percent of the return on investment provides annual monies for scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, and operating expenses.

Esteves, a former teacher turned energy entrepreneur, is the Chief Financial Officer of New Jersey-based SESCO, Inc., an energy conservation company, and founder and former CEO of Free Lighting Corporation, which provides energy conservation consulting across the United States.

"This remarkable challenge served as a catalyst for other acts of generosity and shows of confidence in Sage," said President Susan Scrimshaw. "These will help us continue our progress in becoming increasingly excellent, relevant, and engaged in learning, in our communities, and in the world."

Sage defies downward trend, surpasses record-breaking annual fund goal

Sage has managed to post a record-breaking fiscal year for fundraising, exceeding its ambitious $1.22 million annual fund goal and posting the largest-ever figures for the college, despite colleges seeing declining annual fund participation for several years and a drop in annual fund revenues in 2009.

Sage closed its fiscal year June 30 with a total raised for the annual fund of $1,237,592. This is an even more impressive accomplishment when considering several key factors: the goal represented a 45 percent increase from the total raised last year; the depression of donations to colleges as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education on June 24, 2010; and Sage competing against itself as it strove to meet the endowment challenge and the ambitious annual fund goal in the same time period.

Esteves, as board chair, praised the efforts of the Sage team who accomplished both. "Talk about winners! You are the best of the best! But the real winners are the students of The Sage Colleges who will profit from your dedicated, hard work and professional ingenuity."

"Without the leadership and vision of our Board and president, the results we celebrate would not have been realized," said vice president Dan Lundquist. "This is a great team effort and certainly sends a proud message about Sage's future."


The Sage Colleges, an independent private institution of higher education, is comprised of three colleges: Russell Sage College, a comprehensive, undergraduate college for women in Troy, NY; Sage College of Albany, a coeducational undergraduate college of applied studies in Albany, NY; and the Sage Graduate Schools of Education, Health Sciences, and Management, operating on both campuses and offering applied master's and doctoral degrees. Through Sage College of Albany's Sage After Work program, working adults with college credit or an associate degree can earn their bachelor's while working full time.