Wabash Fund Raising: A Banner Yearby Jim Amidon • August 3, 2011
It was a banner year for Wabash in so many ways — from new academic programs and facilities to record numbers at the Admissions Office. Wabash’s alumni and friends put an exclamation point on the 2010-11 academic year by giving more than $3.11 million to the College’s Annual Fund.
The Annual Fund, which is made up of unrestricted donations to the College, included gifts from 4,260 donors who gave $3,116,219 during fiscal 2011. The year represents an increase of donors (203) and gifting ($64,997) over the prior fiscal year.
“All of Wabash is grateful for the generosity and commitment of so many alumni and friends of the College,” said President Patrick E. White (right). “I am especially excited about the increase in the number of alumni and friends who contributed to the Annual Fund this year over last. This increase shows a building momentum of engagement in the future of the College.”
According to Annual Fund Director Joe Klen ’97, alumni rallied in the final month of the year to make gifts of nearly $700,000 — the highest total ever in the month of June. Klen also said that the $3.11 million total is the second highest in the last 11 years.
A total of 3,799 alumni made gifts to the College in fiscal 2011, which marks an increase of 187 alumni donors over the prior year. The Annual Fund’s theme — “Stand TALL for Wabash” — focused on the acronym of the College’s mission of educating men to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.
Making the accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that the Annual Fund saw increases while the College is embarked on the $60 million Challenge of Excellence Campaign. Announced in October, the Challenge of Excellence has surpassed $43 million in gifts and commitments to date. Total giving to Wabash, including the Challenge of Excellence, surpassed $11.4 million last year.
“This is a significant accomplishment for Wabash — a campaign that is nearly $3 million ahead of schedule, more alumni investing more in our mission, and fund raising results that across the board are better than last year,” said Dean for Advancement Joe Emmick ’92 (left). “Thanks to all of our alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff who made Wabash a philanthropic priority in their lives.”
Alumni in classes celebrating reunions stepped up for the Annual Fund in major ways. The Class of 1961, celebrating its 50th reunion, set what is believed to be a record with more than 72 percent of the class making gifts. The Class of 1991, celebrating 20 years, had the highest number of donors with 92 members of the class supporting the Annual Fund. Thirty-nine classes had an increase over the prior year; five of the top 11 classes were reunion classes.
“Much of the increase in alumni donors can be attributed to the work of the College’s key volunteer leaders — Board of Trustees, NAWM Board, and Class Agents,” said Klen (left). “In particular, the NAWM leadership took on a special initiative to get several alumni back on board with a gift this year. More than 100 alumni donors who didn’t make a gift last year and who were contacted by an NAWM Board member, were back on the Honor Roll of Donors this year. These were Wabash men asking fellow Wabash men to stand TALL and support the teaching and learning that happens on campus each day by making a gift to the Annual Fund. Our volunteer leaders offered their time and their fellow alumni responded.”
Dean Emmick (right) said what impresses him most about Wabash’s fund raising success — in both the Annual Fund and Challenge of Excellence — is what philanthropy makes possible for students, faculty, and staff.
“What is most important in all of this is what it allows us to do for our students,” Emmick said. “Individual philanthropy makes possible a first rate faculty, a culture that embraces the personal responsibility of the Gentleman's Rule, levels of student engagement that are without peer, and co-curricular opportunities that change our students’ lives.”
Alumni from nine decades — from 1934 through the Class of 2011 — made gifts. Young alumni stood particularly tall with every class from 1995 through 2006 showing an increase in donors. Seventy-nine members of the Class of 2011 participated in the Senior Gift Campaign.
“The great progress in the Challenge of Excellence, vital in itself, also indicates the excitement for what we can accomplish together in the future,” added President White. “Increasingly foundations and friends of the College, as well as a growing base of loyal alumni, are stepping up to be a part of the progress and growth of Wabash. In so many ways we are building a strong future for the College and every gift enhances the excellence of Wabash.”
Klen balances his enthusiasm for the past year with the knowledge that many alumni participate in the Annual Fund sporadically. His hopes for the coming year are to retain alumni donors; retention grew from 70 percent to 76 percent in fiscal 2011.
“For 2012 we hope to achieve continued dollar growth for the Annual Fund, retain the support of the College’s alumni and friends who gave in 2010-2011, and gain the support of many who were not able to participate last year,” Klen said.