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St. John's Seniors Make Record-Breaking Class Gifts

Posted by Chris Gruber on June 3, 2014

Seniors Make Record-Breaking Class Gifts in Annapolis and Santa Fe

The Class of 2014 in Annapolis and Santa Fe broke giving records for Senior Legacy gifts this spring. Annapolis seniors surpassed their $10,000 goal by $3,792, resulting in the largest senior gift in the campus’s history, while Santa Fe seniors hit a 100-percent out-of-pocket giving rate, which has never before been accomplished. In both cases, the gifts went to establishing scholarships funds in the name of the Class of 2014.

The Senior Legacy committees on each campus were led by students and supported by the Alumni Relations offices. Together, they helped educate their class about the importance of participation in alumni giving to the fiscal health of St. John’s College: when deciding which colleges and universities to make grants to, most philanthropic foundations consider the percentage of alumni who donate to their alma mater very important. Like many colleges, St. John’s struggles to convince alumni that gifts of any size matter to the overall percentage.

Other incentives for the seniors included challenges made by the college presidents and administrators. In Annapolis, President Chris Nelson and Director of Alumni Relations Leo Pickens each pledged $1,000 if the class could reach the benchmark-high of 78 percent participation. When they hit 79 percent, the class of 1984 stepped forward to pledge $2,014 to each campus, provided seniors could achieve an 84 percent giving rate. Both campuses did. 

The last time the seniors in Santa Fe reached 100 percent giving was in 2002. The gift from the class of 2014 differs significantly from 2002 because this year’s gift was made up entirely of out-of-pocket gifts, rather than as caution-deposit gifts, which means dedicating the $200 general security deposit made in the freshman year to the gift rather than requesting a deposit refund after graduation. Santa Fe seniors met their goal on graduation day—after seeing a stall in gifts at the 60-percent mark. The tribute gift announcement from the class of 1984 inspired a giving spike, as did matching gifts from Sarah Palacios, director of Alumni Relations, who matched any level of participation; Vice President Victoria Mora, who matched at 50-percent participation; and President Mike Peters, who challenged the class to hit 100 percent.

The committees got the word out to their peers through mailings and e-mail campaigns, as well as peer-to-peer solicitation, social events, and pledging tables placed strategically around the campuses. Members of the Annapolis Senior Legacy Committee were Michelle Porcelli, Micaela MacDougall, Yitian Cai, Morgan Stephenson, Catherine Moon, and Jessica Kjellberg. In Santa Fe, the members were Zaki Arain, Camille Byrne, Gonzalo Gamarra, and Ellison Stagaman.