College Community Shatters Expectations on #GivingTuesday

December 14, 2020 | By Les Poling 

The St. John’s community shattered expectations and records on GivingTuesday 2020.

Ever since 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been known to colleges, nonprofits, fundraisers, and other groups as GivingTuesday—described as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world” on the official GivingTuesday website. For participating organizations, GivingTuesday has come to represent a rallying day in which communities gather to give for the greater good.

At St. John’s, GivingTuesday signifies an opportunity to raise money for both current students and future Johnnies; it’s an annual day of excitement and potential for the college’s groundbreaking Freeing Minds campaign. In 2019, St. John’s celebrated its best GivingTuesday ever, with a record-breaking 618 donors taking part. In 2020, however, college staff in Annapolis and Santa Fe tempered their expectations. Given the unprecedented nature of the year, with the country and world suffering from COVID-19 and its economic fallout, it was impossible to predict whether St. John’s could reach its GivingTuesday 2020 goal of 350 donors.

But in typical fashion, the Johnnie community defied all expectations. The college reached its donor goal in the early afternoon, nearly five hours earlier than the previous year; by the time GivingTuesday ended, 763 donors had raised a grand total of $230,000—outpacing 2019’s record-setting totals and providing crucial support for the college and its students during an uncertain time in St. John’s history.

“GivingTuesday 2020 was a record-breaking success for St. John’s College, thanks to the generous support of our Johnnie community, which helped us reach our donor participation goal in half the time of previous years and led us to an all-time high number of donors and gifts generated,” says Interim Annual Giving and Alumni Communications Manager Elise Berrocal. “We are grateful for Johnnies’ commitment to the college and to Freeing Minds.

Of the 763 donors, 75 percent were St. John’s alumni; 14 percent were parents; nine percent were faculty or staff; five percent were friends of the college; two percent were students; and one percent of donations arrived via the Mitchell Gallery. Donations came from 47 states in the U.S., and on a global level spanned South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Throughout the day, matching gifts and challenges from a variety of parents, alumni, and Presidents Mark Roosevelt and Pano Kanelos helped bolster the total amount of money raised, simultaneously offering motivation for donors. And perhaps most significantly, 2020 was the last GivingTuesday in which the Winiarski Family Foundation matched every gift with an equivalent donation to the St. John’s College endowment—lending extra importance and longevity to the money raised on December 1.

Tutor David Townsend reflected on the importance of the St. John’s mission while thanking donors on GivingTuesday.

In ordinary times, the money donated on GivingTuesday helps the college meet student financial aid needs, expand the scope of the classroom experience, broaden the St. John’s wellness program, and much more. This year, in addition to those purposes, every dollar raised will help provide crucial aid for students as they navigate the Program remotely, simultaneously helping the college build a support system for the day that Johnnies can safely return to campus. Thanks to the philanthropy of the college community, St. John’s is better positioned to face the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19.

But more abstractly, the generosity exhibited on GivingTuesday serves to further the mission of the college for years to come. In a video released on GivingTuesday 2020, longtime tutor David Townsend reflected on the importance of that mission: “The dialogue of democracy which we practice at St. John’s is essential; the emphasis on the goals of the good, the true, and the beautiful will be most essential for what we’re doing. And you cannot make a better investment.”

On behalf of all those who benefit from your generosity, thank you to each and every member of our community for making GivingTuesday a success!