MERCED — The University of California at Merced raised $8.3 million from private donors last year but saw a decline in new pledges, according to a report on its fund-raising efforts.
New pledges are lower than they've been since 2004-2005, the year before the university opened.
The university received just over $1 million in new pledges last year, down from $1.4 million the year before. By comparison, donors pledged $2.79 million in 2004-2005 and $5.56 million in 2005-2006.
New outright gifts to the campus last year totaled $2.9 million, just over the donations of 2004-2005 and significantly less than the $6.2 million from the year before.
The university reported an increase in cash it received from previous pledges. It took in $5.3 million last year, up from $4.4 million the year before.
UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang said the private contributions are an important revenue source because of tight recession budgets for education coming out of Sacramento.
"The next few years will be characterized by careful resource allocation" Kang wrote in a message on the school's annual reporting Web site. "In light of the prevailing state of the economy, the campus community has developed initiatives to allow us to meet the challenges of severe state budget reductions. We are grateful for the devoted group of supporters who believe that UC Merced is critical to the vitality of the San Joaquin Valley, the state and the nation."
The private donation report will be reviewed by the University of California regents at a meeting next week.
At California State University, Stanislaus, fund-raising has remained steady at about $3 million per year since 2005, spokeswoman Kristin Olsen said. "We are on a similar pace this year," she said. "We are very appreciative our wonderful foundation members and other donors are placing their trust in the university and sharing our vision of growth."
The UC system reports donations in two ways.
The first method is cash-based and measures outright gifts, private grants and payments on previous pledges. It doesn't include new pledges. That's reflected in the $8.3 million figure.
The second method includes new pledges, plus outright and private gifts. Payments received from old pledges aren't included, so the figure is considered an accurate reflection of current fund-raising activities. In 2008-2009, this measure shows UC Merced raised $4 million.
Significant gifts in the 2008-2009 fiscal year included $600,000 from Toyota Motor Sales, USA; $500,000 from an anonymous donor for students studying renewable energy; $250,000 from Paramount Farms for low-income students from Kern, Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties; and a $100,000 anonymous donation for graduate student fellowships.
The university also received the prominent "Beginnings" sculpture on the campus quad and several donations for the Little Lake Amphitheater, the buy-a-brick campus landmark created by the Class of 2009.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra contributed to this report.