President Pribbenow receives award for fundraising

Kelton Holsen, Staff Writer

Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow has been named as the recipient of a prestigious award in fundraising by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), a national organization. This award, known as the Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award, is AFP’s most prestigious award. Pribbenow officially received the award on April 2 at the organization’s International Fundraising Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

“It has been my great honor to make the Association of Fundraising Professionals my professional home throughout my career,” said Pribbenow in a statement on AFP’s website. “Here I have found colleagues and friends who share my deep commitment to AFP’s mission: promoting effective and ethical fundraising. Here also I have found an organization dedicated to serving the public trust.”

According to AFP, during his time as president, Pribbenow has tripled the amount of money fundraised by the University annually from $10.5 million to $35 million. AFP noted Pribbenow’s role in the creation of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion as well as a “fundraising transformation” which has caused Augsburg to be seen “as not a perpetual underdog, but rather as a bold leader shaping the future of higher education.”

Much of this fundraising has occurred during the Great Returns Campaign, a fundraising effort led by Pribbenow with the intention of increasing the school’s endowment (essentially, the money that the school has invested for the future) as well as renovating Old Main, building “a campus-wide Urban Arboretum that transforms the outdoor campus into a space for education, research and community engagement” and building a new ice arena. The Great Returns Campaign started in 2015 and is set to run until 2022.

During Pribbenow’s term, Augsburg’s endowment market value grew from $32.4 million in 2007 to $43.9 million in 2017, according to the school’s annual report to donors. The report also noted that during the 2016–2017 period, 75% of the school’s income came from tuition and 8% from room and board, with only 7% of income coming from private gifts and grants (and an additional 7% from unspecified “other income”). According to, a website that uses official government data to track college trends, undergraduate tuition has increased from $23,422 when Pribbenow first became President in 2006 to $38,800 in 2018. For comparison, the average rate of annual tuition growth for four-year private colleges is estimated by CollegeBoard to be about 2.3% per year. Applying this to the 2006 figures would result in an estimated tuition of $30,078 per year for 2018, which is about $8,000 less than the current value.

Meanwhile, the school spends most of its money on salaries and benefits for staff and faculty (38% of net spending), financial aid (33%), and operating expenses (20%). Of the $43.9 million dollars in Augsburg’s endowment, only about 5% is allowed to be used for spending purposes.

Prior to this award, he has also been the recipient of the AFP Chicago Chapter’s President’s Award for Professional Leadership in 1994 and the Minnesota chapter’s Outstanding Professional Fundraiser award.

Mike Geiger, AFP’s CEO and President, praised Pribbenow in a statement on AFP’s website. “The impact of Paul Pribbenow on the organizations he has served is only exceeded by the impact he has had on the entire fundraising profession,” he said. “It is fair to say that fundraising—and how we look at ethics and philanthropy—would look differently without the contributions of Paul. His work will serve as one of the cornerstones of the profession for years to come.”

This article was originally published in the April 12, 2019 issue.