In a year when fundraising for the College was going well before the pandemic, the Division of Institutional Advancement staff found that donors’ love for Meredith and gifts to the College did not stop during the last three months of the fiscal year. The result was over $16 million raised, surpassing the goal of $12 million. The total raised for major, annual, and planned gifts was $16,250,347. The endowment also grew to over $112 million.
The Meredith Fund raised $2,418,578 – a 3.6% increase over the 2018-19 fiscal year. The funds raised were the result of 12,561 gifts from 5,685 donors. Alumnae participation increased to 20.5%, and there were 622 first-time donors. The overall donor retention rate was 94% for the year. Make It Count for Meredith Giving Day raised $638,960 and exceeded the goal by 27%. The Greatest Needs Fund, the unrestricted fund that supports the immediate needs of the College, collected $804,880. And once again, faculty and staff participation stayed strong with a giving rate of 75.3%. In addition, young alumnae participation in the Ivy Society, which encourages monthly giving, increased by 7%. Parents and friends raised $55,859 to support the Meredith Mentors online platform, marking the second year the parents’ project has supported this program.
During the 2019-20 academic year, the Office of Alumnae Relations held 69 outreach events with 2,363 event attendees. Each event gave alumnae the opportunity to reconnect with one another and the College. Meredith Mentors continues to provide alumnae, alumni, and students with the opportunity to connect both professionally and personally. To date, there are nearly 2,000 users in nine countries and 34 states, including Washington, D.C. The 1891 Club, the student Alumnae Association, grew to 411 members. The club promotes lifelong relationships with the College as partners, advocates, and investors.
Advancement Services processes all gifts to the College and online registrations. This fiscal year close to 13,000 gifts were processed and 4,000 online registrations. Advancement Services also hosted 275 students at the third annual scholarship kick-off party and 70 guests at the seventh annual retired faculty and staff luncheon.
Adapting Events and Visits During the Pandemic
Following Giving Day, COVID-19 changed many events for the remainder of the fiscal year. Gift officers shifted their focus to stewardship. Phone calls and socially distanced visits with masks allowed staff to share College information as well as check on the well-being of alumnae and friends.
Much like the rest of the world, the Meredith Fund Phonathon student callers began working remotely. The students made calls to check on the well-being of alumnae who were residents of retirement or assisted living facilities. For the year, Phonathon raised $33,375 towards projects and funds across campus. In a year when many colleges and universities did not have a senior class gift, the Class of 2020 chose to proceed with the Senior Class campaign and gift. Funds raised as part of this year’s Senior Class Gift have been designated to support the Student Emergency Fund. To date, the Class of 2020 has raised $3,232, surpassing their $2,020 goal.
Despite having to cancel all planned outreach events, including Alumnae Reunion Weekend, the Office of Alumnae Relations continued to engage alumnae during the pandemic in a variety of ways. The office began a weekly Staying Strong email message, conducted 23 Zoom events, and coordinated a Commencement message and video for the Class of 2020. The Adopt-a-Freshman Program allowed alumnae to welcome members of the Class of 2024 to Meredith. The program paired 150 freshmen with alumnae.
“In March, our hardworking and creative Institutional Advancement staff changed the way we work every day,” said Lennie Barton, vice president for institutional advancement. “The results are unprecedented, as we actually raised more money this year than in the last year of a very successful $90 million campaign.”
This fiscal year, plans are already underway to keep alumnae and friends engaged with the College through virtual events, informational emails with news from the College, and special reimagined events for donors.
Why was it important for you to give to Meredith this year?
“Meredith needs help now more than ever. I knew that when the College had to pivot to virtual teaching platforms, the technology needs would greatly increase. My gift to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences helped the department purchase the extra equipment, software, and technologies needed to deliver course content virtually. Our faculty need to be able to adapt to changes quickly during COVID-19.”
– Marianne Nifong Raker, ’72
“This time is critical for colleges and universities, especially smaller institutions. It’s extremely important to me to support Meredith so our institution will remain strong throughout this crisis.”
– Jena Muntz Gallagher, ’85
“I felt it was important to continue giving to Meredith this year amidst the pandemic because the College still has needs. Meredith has had to make many adjustments in order to continue instruction during the quarantine phases, and those changes have an expense. We must continue supporting Meredith as we all work towards reaching a new level of normalcy.”
– Whitley Holt, ’17
“I believe it is important to give to Meredith this year because the work of the College doesn’t stop just because the world is in disarray. Meredith is known for being strong and being a “Lux” to our community and the world. In order for Meredith to continue shining her light, we must continue to give. Future students and the world they will seek to change depend on our support.”
– Hannah Morgan, ’13
“I know that Meredith’s tuition is beyond the reach of many families without the help of scholarships. I want as many women as possible to have the Meredith experience, and so I do what I can to provide funding to the Meredith Fund in addition to the scholarship we established in memory of my mother. Especially now, during and recovering from the pandemic – we need more strong women!”
– Betsy Porter Fritschel, ’77