Foundation requests donations for students

In Features

The Philanthropic Foundation at Cal State Fullerton collects and receives private gifts and donations solely for the purpose of fulfilling university needs.

It seeks to engage high-level volunteers in activities that directly support students, faculty and various programs at the university.

The foundation’s goal is to enhance the management and investment of endowments and planned gifts, as well as to promote CSUF through the ambassadorship of the Board of Governors.

This is done through focusing on improving donor relations to build quality relationships that lead to major gifts.

Ira Unterman, a CSUF alumnus, received his B.A. in business administration and has been the chief financial officer of the Philanthropic Foundation since February 2010. He is also assistant vice president of the university’s Advancement Operations.

Unterman said the foundation board, which mostly consists of volunteers, can hold a maximum of 35 members. The board currently has 24 members that are community and business leaders who steward and invest donated funds. Some board members are alumni of CSUF.

“Their role is to act as the stewards, and to ensure that the money goes to the college, the departments, the programs, the scholarships as the donor has directed,” said Unterman.

When someone sends in monetary gifts to the foundation they are meant to benefit the university, Unterman said.

These contributions are designated as either temporary or permanently restricted funds––when a donor specifies a certain use of the funds, the funds are given usage restrictions.

“Ninety-nine out of 100 gifts the donor knows and the donor is telling us where it goes,” Unterman said. “All non-profits respect the right of the donor to make that restriction.”

“It’s the foundation board’s responsibility to ensure that those donor restrictions are respected,” he added.

The Philanthropic Foundation received about  $6.7 million in contributions and gifts between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, according to the foundation’s financial statements. For the year ending June 30, 2012, total contributions and gifts totalled about $7.1 million.

“Dollar wise last year, we did raise less money than the year before, in some respects the economy makes a difference, and as a fundraising institution we are not as old,” Unterman said.  “We’ve only had a university advancement division since the late ‘80s.”

It was not until  the ‘90s that the foundation was formally recognized as a CSU auxiliary and became a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code this makes the Philanthropic Foundation exempt from federal and state income taxes.

The contributions are allocated toward various programs and scholarships. In the year ending June 30, 2012, about $1.9 million was allocated toward scholarships. This was an increase from the year ending June 30, 2011, when about $1.5 million was used for student scholarships.

“We are raising significant resources to benefit the students and faculty here on campus. We did see an uptick in scholarship contributions last fiscal year,” Unterman said.

The foundation works in conjunction with different colleges at CSUF to fundraise to fund scholarships and programs within the college.

“Some of the things that they do fundraising for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is our Center for Oral and Public History,” said Patricia Balderas, business manager at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “It’s a collaborative effort.”

Balderas said that in addition to scholarships, the college works with the foundation to find funds for the Washington D.C. Internship Program to provide scholarships for students to offset costs.

Gordon Morris Bakken, Ph.D., a history professor, has made contributions to the Philanthropic Foundation to remain supportive of students at CSUF.

“I have contributed to the Philanthropic Foundation for decades to support scholarly and creative activity of students and faculty,” said Bakken. “I regularly donate to the History Alumni Association to provide other scholarships to students.”

Bakken has also donated to the Titan Athletic Foundation to support student athletes. In addition, he makes monthly donations to the Phi Alpha Theta Fund for Student Research and Creative Activity to create a pool of funds to enable students to travel to scholarly conferences to present papers and participate on scholarly panels.

For those interested in making a donation or learning more about the Philanthropic Foundation, visit

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