Duke Counts $517 Million in Private Donations

Brodhead Center at Night
The Brodhead Center at night. A center of student life, one of the core areas of support for private donors at Duke.

More than 92,000 Duke University alumni and friends gave $517 million in fiscal year 2021 to support research, faculty, financial aid, patient care, campus transformations and the student experience. This marks the sixth consecutive year that Duke raised more than $500 million in philanthropic support.

“The support of our alumni and friends is vital to Duke’s continued excellence — their generosity provides the foundation for transformational teaching, learning and discovery and ensures that everyone who comes to Duke has an extraordinary experience,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “I am grateful for all they make possible at Duke and around the globe.”

Gifts and nongovernmental grants for research totaled nearly $203 million, representing the largest funded area of private philanthropy. Donors also contributed to financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students ($133 million), support for faculty excellence in research and teaching ($16 million) and transforming the campus through new construction and facility renovations ($20 million).

“When we think of the strength of Duke community, we can’t help but appreciate and thank our alumni, parents, friends, grateful patients, students, faculty and staff who engage with us,” said David L. Kennedy, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “They have been steadfast with their loyal support during these challenging times. We are so deeply appreciative of the many ways they give back to Duke so generously.”

The Duke Annual Fund received more than $44 million from more than 52,000 alumni, parents, students and friends, a new record. The Annual Fund helps support students and faculty, financial aid and fellowships, and educational programs for all of Duke’s undergraduate, graduate and professional schools. It also supports Duke Chapel, Duke Libraries, Duke Marine Lab, Nasher Museum of Art and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

See the impact of philanthropy at Duke in the 2021 Annual Impact Report. Highlights include:

  • A leap forward for Duke Science and Technology: The university’s signature effort to elevate the sciences at Duke included the largest award in Duke’s history, $100 million from The Duke Endowment to hire the next generation of scientist-scholars. In addition, Duke received gifts from donors to advance research commercializationdiverse faculty hiring and the newly created Duke Discovery Fund. The largest gift by individual donors — $23.75 million — was given by Duke Trustee and Duke alumnus Ned Gilhuly and his wife, Karen.
  • Helping students thrive at Duke School of Medicine: A family foundation established by the late Dudley Rauch, an alumnus of the university, pledged $30 million to establish an endowment for need-based financial aid for medical students in the School of Medicine. The gift by the Rauch Family Foundation is the single largest commitment for financial aid ever made to the School of Medicine.
  • Engineering innovation: A new 150,000-square-foot Wilkinson Building for the Pratt School of Engineering opened at the intersection of the university’s schools of engineering, medicine, and arts and sciences. The building is bringing together faculty focused on advances in health, computing and the environment, as well as centers for engineering entrepreneurship and innovation. The building is named in honor of longtime supporters Jerry and Beverly A. Wilkinson and their family.
  • Diversifying STEM: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation renewed a $1 million grant to increase the number of underrepresented minority Ph.D. graduates in the physical sciences and engineering over the next three years.
  • Supporting the student experience: Donors pledged $10.5 million as part of a need-based financial aid initiative that matches dollar-for-dollar, the Lord 100 Challenge, for a total of $21 million to support full and partial scholarships for undergraduate students.

The total includes cash gifts from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, and does not include pledges for future support or government contracts. Universities and colleges report cash totals to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for its Voluntary Support of Education survey. This reflects immediate cash flow derived from private support — including outright gifts, grants and payments on existing pledges — and best represents fundraising activity in fiscal year 2021.