12 January 2009

University reaches new donations landmark

Photo: Silver Arrows badge

Only eight months after receiving its 5,000th individual donation, the University has reached yet another fundraising landmark - as we received our 6,000th donation in December.

Since the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office was set up in 2002, more than £5 million in donations has been raised in cash donation from former students, current and former staff, companies, parents and friends of the University – with several additional five, six and seven-figure pledges, many in the form of legacies, still to be received. These gifts help the University to provide the best possible support for its students and staff – and in doing so, they also help to maintain Sheffield’s position as one of the UK’s top universities.

Student scholarship programme success

One of the most important areas that donations support is scholarships for gifted students from less well-off backgrounds. Thanks entirely to individual donations, the University is able to fund 30 new undergraduate scholarships per year (worth £3,000 each); and six new postgraduate scholarships per year for one-year taught Master's students (worth £2,000 each.) Since 2003, almost 200 scholarships have been created thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends.

These awards make a tremendous difference to the University experience of students who are academically bright, but who have had to overcome more obstacles than many of their peers in order to win their place at Sheffield. Many of our scholarship recipients are from low-income households; some are coping with a disability or caring for a dependent relative; and some are from areas or schools where there is little or no tradition of applying to study at University.

Alumni donations help the University to ensure that these talented students are not unfairly disadvantaged during their time here simply due to their difficult personal or financial circumstances.

“We are very proud of our scholarship programme, because it is making such a positive difference to our students' lives,” said Professor Dominic Shellard, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Affairs. ”Donations from our alumni ensure that we can continue to attract the brightest and best students, and give them all the support they need to make their time in Sheffield a success.

"One of the greatest pleasures of my new role is meeting these enormously grateful students and discussing with our alumni how their generosity can make such a powerful impact.

"Thank you very much to all our donors for your support – it really is making all the difference to our students’ University experience.”

Click below to read profiles of some of our current scholarship students.

New Government funding scheme maximises donations’ impact

Another factor in the recent increase in donations to the University has been the new Government Matched Funding Scheme for Universities, launched in August this year. This means that for the next three years, for every £1 donated to the University, the government will add an extra 33p (including matching Gift Aid up to 25p per £1).

For more information on this new funding opportunity, please click on the link below.

“We’re extremely grateful to all our donors for their support, because even the smallest gift makes a difference,” said Miles Stevenson, Director of Development. “For example, we now have 370 members in our Silver Arrows Circle – our gift club for alumni, staff and friends who are donating via a regular standing order. These gifts range from £5 per month up to £1,000 per year and more – but collectively they contribute more than £64,000 per year to support our student scholarship programme. So these gifts really do make a tremendous collective impact on people’s lives.”

Members of the Silver Arrows Circle, and members of our leadership gift clubs (the Firth Circle, the Vice-Chancellor’s List and the Chancellor’s List) now receive an extra gesture of recognition and thanks, with a new donor lapel pin (pictured). Made by one of Sheffield’s oldest surviving cutlers and silversmiths, this special pin reflects the important long-standing relationship between the city and the University, whose crests both include the sheaf of arrows.

“For the next three years we have a great opportunity to access extra funds through the government’s new Matched Funding Scheme (a potential extra £2.75 million),” Miles said. “So we hope that our alumni and staff will help us to make the most of this opportunity by making a donation – and help to make our great University even better.”

To make a donation to support the University, please click below.