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Letter to the Editor – We thank you!

Sometimes people will ask me “What does the Foundation do?”

To get right to it, the Montana State University-Northern Foundation (aka Northern Alumni Foundation) is the recognized philanthropic not-for-profit organization for Montana State University-Northern. However, that doesn’t really describe what we do.

In a nut shell, we encourage donations, process gifts, and manage funds. We host events and we fundraise for both small campus initiatives and large capital campaigns. We sit in countless meeting with the University and attend campus activities. We pay bills, process scholarships, and pay out funds to the University business office.

In 2021 the Foundation had visits, calls, and letters from many places around Montana and even North America. Our outreach is busy and broad. Close to 700 people took part in our community events such as yoga, hayrides, Donor Appreciation Day, and Homecoming. In 2021 for the first time, we put up billboards and collaborated on a new beer. In the fall we hosted our first on-campus tailgates at football games at our new turf field. Did I mention the parades?

We reached out to 8,000 supporters via email this year, plus 13,000 Aurora Borealis Magazines were mailed. We sent countless thank you notes, condolence cards, cards in honor or memory of, save the date, and holiday cards. We wrote press releases and did weekly, sometimes daily, updates on our social media and website to keep followers engaged. We stuffed over 4,000 envelopes for of our annual appeal letters.

At Homecoming we hosted 70 alum who had reunions of fifty and higher – some who attended Northern as far back as 1950, even calls and notes from three ladies from the class of 1946!

In 2021 alone, we processed 2,050 gifts from over 1,140 unique donors, more than the prior year. Of those gifts, $705,000 were for endowments increasing our endowments by 11 percent to $7.5 million and guaranteeing gifts to future generations of students. We created 15 new scholarships and despite not having three key events, (the Ball, the Alumni Auction nor Golden Graduation), I’m grateful for the generosity that still came our way and that funds raised exceeded years when we had those events.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks for all of your support in another very unique year.

Thank you to our extremely hard-working staff, Toni Pedersen and Lee Lounder, as well as former staff Darla McCloy and Emily Jones. Thank you, Board of Trustees, (12 local, five from around Montana), who volunteer their time and energy to help us do our best for Northern, led by our wonderful chair, Kurt Johnson.

A special shout out to all of our event volunteers who go above and beyond. And thank you to Chancellor Greg Kegel for your drive and vision for the future of Northern.

To this great community, to the people along the Hi-Line and beyond, and to our Northern alumni, I appreciate your generous spirit and thank you.

We were busy at the Foundation in 2021, and I say, let’s keep it that way in 2022!

Shantel Cronk

Executive Director, MSU-Northern Foundation