Donors: Ken McCarty

More than a Man of Steel, Brick, and Mortar

You may not know Ken McCarty if you saw him walking across campus, but you would certainly know most of the buildings across campus that he has helped turn into a reality:

  • BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies
  • Caroline Hemenway Harmon Building
  • Centennial Carillon Tower
  • Cougar Room at LaVell Edwards Stadium
  • Cougar Marching Band Hall
  • Crabtree Engineering Building
  • Ernest L. Wilkinson Center Expansion
  • Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center
  • Harold B. Lee Library, Expansions 1 and 2
  • J. Reuben Clark Building
  • Joseph Smith Building
  • Joseph F. Smith Building
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium Expansion
  • Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum
  • Miller Park (baseball and softball)
  • N. Eldon Tanner Building
  • Museum of Art (MOA)
  • Spencer W. Kimball Tower
  • Student Athlete Center and Indoor Practice Facility

Ken has played a major role for the past thirty-eight years in helping raise funds to construct these buildings in addition to raising funds for temples, humanitarian projects, family history work, missionary work, the Tabernacle Choir, LDS Business College, BYU–Idaho, and BYU–Hawaii.

Regarding these efforts, Ken stated, “I am grateful that I have been able to play a small part in raising the funds for many of the buildings that dot the BYU campus. Working for decades with generous donors who love the Lord and desire to use their treasure to bless and build the kingdom has been one of the greatest blessings in my lifetime.”

As a team member in LDS Philanthropies, Ken has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for priority projects at BYU and for other LDS Church charities. These projects include thousands of scholarships, professorships, fellowships, and endowments that are blessing the lives of students and faculty at BYU today.

How has he attracted these donations? First, Ken is a very warm and genuine person who befriends people. He’s positive, straightforward, and encouraging. He loves people and naturally builds them up. Second, he shares a positive vision of how donations can bless the kingdom. At firesides and cottage meetings, in phone conversations, and during personal visits with donors, Ken assumes positive results. He feels that all donors want to help, and he helps them catch a tangible vision of what their money will do. He helps potential donors understand how they can honor their loved one’s legacy by naming an endowment after them. He shares with them the great difference they can make in the lives of students who are the future builders of the kingdom by funding scholarships. He is never timid about asking for the amount needed. He is always sensitive to donor concerns and circumstances and helps them find creative ways to contribute that bless both them and the kingdom.

Ken has always been devoted in his Church and to community service. After a serving a mission for the Church in New Zealand from 1969 to 1971, he graduated from BYU in business administration in 1974. For the first fifteen years of his career, he worked for LDS Philanthropies, first as a regional director and then as an area director for the LDS Foundation, covering Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. In Hillsboro, Oregon, he was elected as the youngest individual to ever serve on the city council. He also served on the Planning Commission, Finance Committee, and the Library Board. In Church service, Ken has served as a bishop two times, as a branch president at the MTC, and as a member of the stake presidency of a young single adult stake.

In 1988 he was asked to be the national director of field operations for LDS Philanthropies. Then in 1994 Ken was appointed as the director of the Leadership Gifts Team for the Lighting the Way Capital Campaign at BYU. In 1999 he was assigned as the project leader for the $50 Million Capital Campaign to help build the new Practice Facility and Student Athletic Complex at BYU.

Finally, in 2002 he began his current assignment as assistant dean of Religious Education with the responsibility of developing funding resources for Religious Education Priority Projects. He states: “I am excited and honored to be working in Religious Education. I can honestly say in my thirty-eight years of fund-raising experience, I have never worked for a nobler cause. The work we do not only blesses the lives of thousands of students; it is a blessing to the entire worldwide Church.”

Of Ken, Dean Terry B. Ball says: “Ken has been a wonderful colleague, friend, and blessing in Religious Education. He has a marvelous gift for helping others understand our mission and how they can help us accomplish it. We so appreciate not only all that he does, but also the kind and generous spirit in which he serves. We cherish his association.”

Ken and his wife, Debbie, just celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary and have been blessed with three children (Tanya, Ryan, and Sarah) and eight grandchildren. Ken’s approach to work and life is captured in a quote from his youngest daughter, Sarah. Sarah passed away in 1997 at the age of thirteen from cystic fibrosis. Through all her struggles, each time Sarah was asked how she was doing, her answer was always, “Life is good.”

For most of his life, Ken has helped raise critically needed funds, funds that have blessed the Church, BYU, and countless members and students around the world. Indeed, for them, because of the work of Ken McCarty and the gifts of generous donors, “life is good.”

Most people don’t realize how easy it is to get involved with some of these endeavors. There are multiple options and a great deal of flexibility for how to structure donations. There are also multiple benefits, including tax benefits, for those who donate. There is no shortage of worthy projects an individual or a group can support.

To donate to Religious Education programs, please visit Friends of Religious Education at or call Ken McCarty at 801-422-4148.