Fotini Alfieris works to acknowledge and thank donors at Fresno State. After a year on the job and seeing the impact of gifts, she started thinking about ways she and her husband, Steve, a 1999 graduate, could contribute too.

They decided to combine their passion as advocates to help spread awareness of multiple sclerosis — a disease of the central nervous system affecting the flow of information from the brain to the body — with their love for Fresno State. Alfieris, director of donor relations, was diagnosed with MS more than a decade ago, forcing her to drop out of college her senior year.

The Alfieris’ established a $30,000 endowment to fund scholarships for students with multiple sclerosis or who have a parent with the disease.

The couple is among the nearly 10,000 people who contributed more than $22.4 million to Fresno State during the 2017-2018 academic year — $18.3 million for academics and $4.1 million for athletics. That’s a 22 percent increase in overall giving from the year before. Individual donor participation was also up 9 percent and student, faculty and staff support is increasing each year under President Castro’s leadership.

“We are grateful to our many generous alumni, friends, foundations and corporations who have helped to make this an extraordinarily successful fundraising year for Fresno State,” said President Joseph I. Castro. “I am particularly pleased with the significant increase in the number of gifts from alumni and friends, a testament to the importance they see in supporting the success of our talented students.”

Philanthropy touched all corners of the University providing student scholarships, funding academic programs, upgrading classrooms, supporting athletics and strengthening services that help students in need.

Here is a look at some of the noteworthy gifts from last year:

–       $1.8 million from the Frank and Roxie Moradian trusts for student scholarships in the College of Arts and Humanities and the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. The Moradians were Fresno philanthropists who gifted a portion of their estates to help students pursue careers in fields that they treasured.

–       $1 million gift from an anonymous donor to fund research and The President’s Circle for Excellence. Half of the gift will support undergraduate, team-based research in genetics and molecular biology. The other half is for The President’s Circle, an existing fund maintained by the Fresno State Foundation for private gifts to be distributed at the discretion of the University president to meet smaller program needs on campus.

–       $450,000 from Chevron to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs in the Lyles College of Engineering and the College of Science and Mathematics. A portion of the gift will develop a Process and Control Automation Academy with research and development opportunities, classroom upgrades and professional development opportunities relevant to Central Valley manufacturing industries.

The other portion goes to the Physics Outreach program for a new demonstration trailer that travels to underserved schools in the community for hands-on lessons by students pursuing a career in K-12 education.

–       $250,000 from Saint Agnes Medical Health Center to fund the Community Health Mobile Unit in the College of Health and Human Services. The unit, coordinated by nursing faculty and students, travels to rural communities in Fresno County offering free health services to those who don’t readily have access to health care. It is completely donor funded.

–       $14,578 from more than 600 graduates in the Class of 2018 to support student scholarships, the Student Cupboard and Victor E. Bulldog III. The class represented a 122 percent increase in student donors and 158 percent increase in total dollars raised compared to 2017.

–       $424,755 from the first-ever Day of Giving. The 24-hour digital fundraising campaign invited alumni, friends, businesses, faculty and staff to support Fresno State. This online campaign drew 1,123 donors from 29 states. This year’s Day of Giving will be on Nov. 1.

“Our campus and community culture of philanthropy is growing in support of student success at Fresno State. Alumni giving is one indicator of California State University campus effectiveness,” said Paula Castadio, vice president for University Advancement. “This year, individual alumni donors have increased 14.5 percent, or by 753 alumni donors. We encourage our alumni to support the University at whatever amount is comfortable to help demonstrate our campus’ strength in numbers.”