Taylor University announced on Friday, April 28 that it had received its largest-ever financial gift.
The $20 million donation is from an anonymous donor and was revealed to the public during the President’s Dinner, which took place at the end of Heritage Day of April 28.
In addition to being the largest gift in the history of the university, according to Million Dollar List, it’s also the largest gift to have ever been received by a Christian college or university in the state of Indiana.
The gift is aimed at making Taylor University a more affordable and accessible academic institution, and will go toward a new scholarship challenge that was also announced at the dinner, called the “10:10 Scholarship Challenge.”
The endeavor was labeled by Michael Falder, vice president for university advancement, as the most aggressive scholarship match the institution has pursued.
“It’s a noble decision,” Falder said. “Because there’s a long list of things we could spend $20 million on, but students were chosen.”
Essentially, the gift itself will make every donation made within the 10:10 challenge matched. If a donation of $100 is made, $100 from the gift will match it. Ultimately, the hope is this will lead to a $40 million scholarship fund that will support student affordability at Taylor.
According to President Michael Lindsay, when that happens, it will mark the largest scholarship gift initiative at a private institution in Indiana.
The name of the “10:10 scholarship challenge” is also a nod to Jesus’ words in John 10:10, that he came to give “life to the full.”
When the administration became aware of the gift, the focus was on on how best to use it. Lindsay said that the idea of a scholarship match challenge made sense.
“We knew that Taylor supporters would rally around the idea of ensuring excellence and affordability to our students,” Lindsay said. “That’s one of the pillars of Taylor Thrives and has already received great support.”
Lindsay said that inspiration also came from Luke 12:48, where Jesus tells his followers to be good stewards of what they are given.
This punctuates an already strong year for fundraising at Taylor. Before this was announced, Taylor had already broken all previous fundraising records for a fiscal year.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” Falder said. “So we put a lot of time and effort into it and appropriately announcing and sharing this news.”
The 10:10 challenge went live after the announcement and is already accepting donations.
There are seven categories that donations and the matched donation will contribute to scholarships for. Those seven are:
Opportunity (high financial need), Kingdom Diversity (diversity of race, ethnicity and national language), Top Scholar (academically gifted), Ministry service (families in full-time missions or ministry), Taylor Legacy (children, grandchildren and siblings), Global (international diversity) and athletics.
As previously reported in the Echo, Taylor had also already seen significant endowed scholarship fundraising goals already broken.
“To put this in perspective,” Michael Mortensen, director of scholarships, said. “Last year, we received almost $4.2 million in annual and endowed scholarships, a new record high. If we would meet or exceed this amount annually, it would take almost five years to reach what these anonymous donors gave with one gift.”
A gift this size also is expected to spark interest from other potential donors. Lindsay said the best way to draw philanthropic support is to be able to show previous examples of ways in which gifts were used and received in the past.
Mortensen said since the announcement, he has received significant interest from other possible donors about either contributing to this effort or funding scholarships in other ways, and that he was asked within a minute of the President’s Dinner being over about how to contribute.
Lindsay expressed gratitude for the people that helped make this possible.
“Securing and stewarding a gift like this represents a herculean team effort,” Lindsay said. “I am extremely grateful for the strategic work several trustees undertook, including our amazing board chair, Chris Goeglein. He was, by far, our MVP in making this happen. Other members of the Servant Leadership Team, including Mike Falder, Will Hagen, and Stephen Olson played critical roles in bringing the gift to completion. Additionally, Holly Whitby and a number of colleagues in advancement and marketing/communication went above and beyond to help us make a strong announcement around the 10:10 Scholarship Challenge. I am grateful to each and every one of them.”
For those interested in contributing to the “10:10 Scholarship Challenge,” more information can be found at https://www.taylor.edu/1010.
“God is preparing us for something, and to whom much is given, much is required, and we don’t take that lightly,” Falder said.