Alumni donate in record numbers raising over $5 million in total

Geneseo has become a hub of collegiate advancement over the years through academic, athletic and artistic achievements spurred by an intelligent student body and engaged faculty. Its prestigious reputation, however, would not have been possible without the support from thousands of alumni across the country. Approximately 7,600 alumni decided to show their support through donations this past fiscal year, totaling just over $5 million and setting the record for the most donors ever.

Annual Giving, a subdivision of the Department of Advancement, surpassed its original goal of recruiting 7,500 alumni to donate, receiving a staggering $5,048,006 as a result of its efforts.

“We do not usually set overall dollar goals for the division, but focus more on goals for unrestricted giving and alumni participation,” Director of Annual Giving and The Fund for Geneseo Gina Scalise said.

Over the last two years, the alumni participation within this area has increased from 8 percent (about 3,000 alumni) to 13 percent. The team running the Annual Giving division hopes to see a participation rate of 16 percent (9,000 alumni) by the end of this next fiscal year.

“It’s a big goal for us,” Director of Phonathon and coordinator of Young Alumni and Student Giving David Arduin said.

“Increasing the percentage of alumni donor participation this much is absolutely unheard of in college advancement these days,” he said. “Everyone is finding that their advancement programs are really having a hard time retaining donors. For us to maintain and also build on our participation is extremely impressive.”

The largest donation made in the last fiscal year came as a complete surprise to Arduin and the rest of the Annual Giving team. Richard and Mary Fernan, Geneseo graduates from 1946 and 1940 respectively, left a $1.5 million gift to Geneseo in their will, discovered only after their passing.

Participation in advancement came in all sizes and from all ages from Geneseo alumni. Approximately 18.4 percent of alumni from the class of 2013 made donations and 17.4 percent of the class before that did as well.

Programs like “Make Your Mark” which educates enrolled students on giving back to their school, may have encouraged many of these young alumni to donate so soon after graduation. Through “Make Your Mark,” current Geneseo students have the opportunity to donate to whatever academic or social department they wish.

Most of the donations received from alumni, however, are unrestricted, meaning the money will be allocated to wherever the need at Geneseo is greatest.

“Distribution of these new funds will go mainly to areas of scholarship, research, study abroad, internship and varsity athletics,” Arduin said. “Any unrestricted money will be used within the next year to support these departments.”

The Annual Giving division has high hopes for another year of great donation prosperity.

“As an alumna and a staff member, I couldn’t have been more proud of achieving these milestones,” Scalise said. “Our successes have set the bar to accomplish even more in the coming years.”