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Record Giving to F&M Fund Reflects Strengthening Alumni Engagement

Giving to Franklin & Marshall College grew significantly in the fiscal year ended June 30, buoyed by record-high contributions to F&M's annual fund and strong engagement with the College by alumni of all generations.

F&M raised $15.51 million in the 2012-13 year, an increase of nearly $1 million -- or 7 percent -- compared to the previous year. The latest total includes a record $4.41 million in giving to the Franklin & Marshall Fund, a 13 percent jump from the previous year. The F&M Fund, through both unrestricted and designated gifts, supports need-based financial aid, academic programs, athletics, campus life and other key College priorities.

Overall, the number of alumni donors in 2012-13, including members of the graduating senior class, rose by 4 percent to 7,001, the College's highest total in four years.

"The support of our dedicated alumni is a hallmark of the College's excellence," Franklin & Marshall President Daniel R. Porterfield said. "Gifts from our alumni, as well as from parents and friends of the College, provide critical support for our mission of providing a world-class undergraduate education to talented students from across the country and around the world. I am inspired by the commitment of our alumni volunteers and donors in helping F&M strengthen our standing as one of the top liberal arts institutions in the country."

  • reunion2013 2003parade
  • Graduates from F&M's Class of 2003 join in the class parade at Reunion 2013 in June. Stronger support from graduates of the last decade helped F&M record increased fundraising totals for the 2012-13 fiscal year. (Photo by Matthew Tennison)

Matthew Eynon, F&M's vice president for college advancement, noted that the giving results exemplify the increasing levels of alumni engagement in the life of the College.

"All great institutions have exceptional volunteers at the root of their success in advancement work, and F&M is no exception," Eynon said. "We have more than 1,300 committed alumni volunteers and we are working to expand even further the membership and impact of our volunteer ranks. Our alumni are demonstrating their pride in F&M not only through giving, but through their participation in campus and regional events, their valuable contributions to our volunteer leadership groups, and their service as mentors to students and ambassadors for the College."

Young Alumni, Reunion Classes Drive Momentum

F&M's giving totals for the past year were aided by rising support from younger alumni as well as members of the 2013 Reunion classes.

As the total number of the College's alumni rose in 2012-13, F&M's alumni giving participation rate remained steady at 29.3 percent, reflecting the larger size of more recent graduating classes. A key factor in the increased total of donors was F&M's graduates of the last decade (known as GOLD alumni), whose giving participation rate climbed to 25 percent from 22 percent the previous year.

Christine Corkran '05, a member of F&M's Alumni Association Board and a volunteer leader of the Washington, D.C., regional alumni chapter, said that more young alumni have been inspired to make gifts in recognition of the impact F&M continues to have on their lives.

"Many of my GOLD alumni peers choose to make gifts in honor of a professor, coach or other mentor who was meaningful to them during their student days and still today," Corkran said. "F&M provides an unforgettable academic experience by enabling students to work closely with great faculty who teach us to be critical thinkers. Giving back to F&M lets alumni help students of today and tomorrow enjoy this same transformative experience."

Corkran and other volunteers were also motivated by learning that increased alumni participation in giving is a factor in enhancing F&M's standing in national college rankings.

Reunion classes -- those that graduated in the "3" and "8" years, from 1943 to 2008 -- also were a significant factor in F&M's fundraising progress in 2012-13. Reunion classes raised a total of $5.55 million, led by the Class of 1958, which raised a class record $1.19 million.

  • reunion2013 presidentscup
  • During Reunion 2013 festivities, President Daniel R. Porterfield (second from left) presents the President's Cup -- honoring the class with the highest Reunion giving percentage -- to Class of 1963 members Bob Kafin (third from left) and Bob Barry. David Taylor '81, president of the F&M Alumni Association in 2012-13, looks on at far left. (Photo by Nick Gould)

Reunion class giving to the F&M Fund reached an all-time high of $983,460. Three classes set Reunion giving records -- 1963 for the 50th Reunion, 1968 for the 45th Reunion and 1973 for the 40th Reunion. Eight class records also were set.

The Class of 1963, celebrating its 50th Reunion, earned the inaugural President's Cup as the class with the highest Reunion giving percentage -- a class record 59 percent -- as well as the total giving award for classes between the fifth and 50th Reunion, which was a class record $1.05 million. Gifts from the Class of '63 will create five new student scholarships.

"Reunion was a wonderful occasion to reconnect with classmates and the College, and to demonstrate that we are proud to be making an impact on F&M students," said Bob Barry '63, Reunion class gift chair. "As I told my classmates at our dinner during Reunion, the more we support F&M and our class scholarship fund, the more lives we will change."

Another strong outcome for the year was the increase in F&M alumni who give to the College consistently. In the past fiscal year, F&M increased its donor retention rate to 74 percent from 71 percent a year earlier. Eynon cited this as a significant sign of alumni commitment to F&M, as colleges nationwide have experienced declines in alumni giving in recent years. F&M is well ahead of the retention rates for all U.S. colleges (62 percent) and for private U.S. colleges (67 percent), according to data from the Index of Higher Education Fundraising Performance produced by Target Analytics and Blackbaud.

"We will continue to work with all alumni to inspire them to become consistent philanthropic supporters of F&M at whatever level they choose," Eynon said. "As F&M pursues its goal of making a historically strong liberal arts institution even stronger, our partnership with alumni becomes ever more important."

Commitment to Engagement

Beyond giving, F&M alumni demonstrated their commitment to the College in numerous ways during the year. Alumni volunteers helped to attract a record crowd of 1,200 for Reunion 2013 in June, where F&M celebrated the culmination of its yearlong 225th anniversary celebration, and honored distinguished alumni for their service to the College and their professional accomplishments.

Alumni volunteers also helped organize Homecoming & Family Weekend in October 2012, which drew more than 2,800 attendees, as well as 70 regional alumni chapter events around the country that drew more than 3,100 attendees during the course of the year.

Alumni served as professional mentors to students and fellow graduates in increasing numbers through the College's Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development, which launched in the 2012-13 year. Alumni also are an integral part of the Franklin & Marshall Admission Network (FAN), a new initiative also launched in 2012. Through FAN, alumni and parent volunteers supplement the work of F&M admissions staff by serving as ambassadors for the College, staffing recruitment fairs, talking to high school guidance counselors, and interviewing and engaging with prospective students.

"These are exciting times at F&M. Our national profile is steadily rising, and new academic programs and initiatives are making the F&M experience better and better," said David Taylor '81, who served as president of the F&M Alumni Association in 2012-13. "Through volunteer activities and leadership groups such as the Alumni Association Board and the Leadership Council, as well as our many affinity groups including the African-American Alumni Council and the Council for Women, many alumni are performing valuable service to F&M. By keeping our connections to the College strong, alumni will continue to play a vital role in its growth."