Fundraising History

The University’s first recorded private gift of $100 was given by the Class of 1895 to establish a loan fund for deserving students who could not afford to attend the University. From 1895 until 1935, private gifts to the University of Illinois totaled $3.2 million.

The establishment of the Foundation in 1935 created the basis for planned and focused fundraising efforts and major campaigns to perform a vital and ongoing role in the University’s private giving program.

Four years later, in 1939, the Foundation launched its first major fundraising 
effort—the construction and furnishing of the Illini Union on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

From 1935 to 1978, just before the Foundation’s first major fundraising campaign, private gifts to the University made through the Foundation totaled $51.8 million.


The Foundation’s first major fundraising endeavor took place from 1979 to 1984 with the goal of generating $100 million in private gifts. A resounding success, the campaign generated $132 million in support for the University.


The Foundation’s second major fundraising campaign began in 1993 and reached its original goal of $1 billion in 1998. The campaign was extended for two years, resulting in a final total more than 50% above its goal—$1.53 billion. More than $394 million was designated to support specific academic programs, over $250 million was earmarked for student aid, and over $170 million was generated for faculty support.


With a goal of $2.25 billion, Brilliant Futures is the Foundation’s largest campaign to date and one of the most ambitious in higher education history at the time.

Despite a failing economy and a global recession, the goal was surpassed by close to $180 million by its 2011 close. A total of $2.43 billion was raised, with each campus exceeding its goal—Urbana-Champaign with $1.7 billion, Chicago with $675.9 million, and Springfield with $28.7 million.

The campaign’s success is an extraordinary achievement and incredible testament to the generosity of our loyal supporters and their belief in—and commitment to—the University.

For more detailed information about the Brilliant Futures Campaign, reference the August 2012 Campaign Report.


Announced in June 2011 by former University President Michael Hogan, Access Illinois was a three-year effort to raise at least $100 million expressly for scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of student support for all three University campuses.

Reaching the goal very early on, the initiative generated more than $164 million in new gifts, grants, pledges, and deferred commitments.


In October of 2017, the University of Illinois System publicly launched its largest and most ambitious comprehensive fundraising initiative that raised $3.6 billion to support students, faculty, academic, and research programs and facilities. The initiative, which concluded in 20222, was built on three unique and individual campaigns for each of the system's universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield.

  • With Illinois, the campaign for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, had a $2.25 billion goal and raised $2.7 billion.
  • IGNITE, the campaign for the University of Illinois Chicago, had a goal of $750 million and raised $803.4 million.
  • Reaching Stellar, the campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield, had a goal of $40 million and raised $42.5 million.