Because of COVID-19, the Office of Institutional Advancement staff has learned to adapt to different ways of staying connected to alumnae and donors. In a year when fundraising for the College was going well before the pandemic, the staff found that donors’ love for Meredith and willingness to give did not stop during the last three months of the fiscal year. The result was over $16 million dollars 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 fiscal year 2019. The funds raised were the result of 12,561 gifts from 5,685 donors. Alumnae participation also increased to 20.5% and 622 were 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% during the fiscal year. Parents and friends also raised $55,859 to support the Meredith Mentors platform. This is the second year the parents have supported this effort.
The Office of Alumnae Relations held 69 outreach events in 2019-20 with 2,363 event attendees. The Meredith Mentors platform continues to grow, connecting alumnae with current students. There are currently 1,673 users on the platform. The Alumnae Relations staff held 15 on-campus presentations this year to promote the platform and emailed messages to alumnae once a month. The 1891 Club, the student philanthropy organization grew to 411 members.
Alumnae Relations had to cancel all of their events starting in mid-March including their largest event, Alumnae Reunion Weekend, which normally brings 600 alumnae to campus. However, the staff continued to engage alumnae during the pandemic in a variety of ways. They immediately started a weekly Staying Strong email message, conducted 23 Zoom events, coordinated a Class of 2020 commencement message and video, and an Alumnae Reunion video message. In addition, Alumnae Relations started the Adopt a Freshman program via Facebook to connect incoming freshmen and alumnae. The strategy paired 150 freshmen with alumnae and the goal was to help with retaining these new students.
“In March, our hardworking and creative Institutional Advancement staff changed the way we do business,” 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.”