Tag: annual giving

Giving Day goes virtual, sees outpouring of support from Lawrence community

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University supporters contributed more than $1.9 million Thursday on the school’s annual Giving Day, the second most in the event’s seven-year history.

In all, 2,987 alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends participated in an event that went all virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To see this level of support in these trying times is a testament to the generous spirit of our Lawrence community,” President Mark Burstein said. “We are so very grateful. The funds raised will support the essential needs of our students today and in the future in countless ways.”

Giving Day festivities annually draw attention to how the financial contributions support Lawrence students, from campus improvements and sustainability efforts to academic innovations and opportunities in arts and athletics.

“I don’t think I can properly express how blown away I was by how the Lawrence community came together to support Giving Day,” said Amber Nelson, associate director of Annual Giving and project manager for Giving Day. “The success of the day really shined a light on how impressive the Lawrence community is and how they support each other.”

The Giving Day success is the continuation of momentum that has been building since the launch of the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, quietly in January 2014 and then publicly in November 2018. The campaign, the largest in Lawrence’s history, is scheduled to close at the end of 2020.

A Be the Light! Virtual Happy Hour was held Thursday as part of Giving Day, giving alumni and others a chance to interact. The first-time event was a rousing success, said Matt Baumler, executive director of Alumni and Constituency Engagement.

“It was an incredible display of community,” he said. “Lawrentians and Downerites from around the globe came together to celebrate, to learn, and to share their light.”

Most of the funds raised Thursday will go to the Lawrence Fund, which is used to support the day-to-day operations of the campus and the student experience. The Lawrence Fund is one of the pillars of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Monies donated were matched by supporters who agreed to be “game changers” in the Giving Day campaign. Every game-changer challenge was met, Nelson said.

“I thought it was really impactful to see the engagement that was happening on social media this year,” she said. “One of the Giving Day challenges was #LULights, where we ask people to share a story about someone at Lawrence who changed their life for the better. It was extremely moving reading all of the positive stories of people’s experiences at Lawrence, and it made me very proud to work here.”

The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying students, the Student Journey, which has welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Grateful Grads Index highlights generosity, commitment of Lawrence alumni

A graduate stands and applauds during Lawrence's 2019 commencement ceremony in June.
Rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Lawrence University graduates at the 2019 commencement ceremony. Lawrence alumni have a long history of staying connected to their alma mater.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The bonds between Lawrence University and its graduates are among the strongest and most enduring of any across the higher education landscape, according to a newly released report from Forbes magazine.

Lawrence landed at No. 26 on Forbes’ 2019 edition of the Grateful Graduates Index, which follows the money in terms of alumni giving at private, not-for-profit colleges. Lawrence is the only Wisconsin school to place in the top 70.

“When I meet with alumni and ask them why they give, two strong themes emerge,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development. “The alumni reference the impact faculty members have had on their educations and lives — specifically, the strong relationships they’ve formed with faculty. Another theme is gratitude for the financial assistance they received as students and wanting to pay it forward.” 

Lawrence ranks high on U.S. News’ Best Value Schools list. Details here.

The Grateful Graduates Index takes a couple of factors into account — the seven-year median gifts per full-time enrolled student and the average percentage of alumni who give back, regardless of the amount.

“We boil down the analysis to a single factor,” Forbes says in its report. “Does your alma mater ‘spark joy’ in your heart, enough to cause you to reach into your wallet and show your gratitude in the form of a donation?”

This marks the seventh consecutive year Lawrence has made the Grateful Grads ranking. It has placed in the top 70 in each of those years, with this year’s No. 26 slot being the highest ranking yet.

From support of current and future students to partnerships with faculty and staff to enhancements of the university’s infrastructure, the generosity of alumni is critical to the ongoing financial health of any private college.

Lawrence has seen that generosity play out in multiple ways. The school’s recent 2018-19 fiscal report showed support topping $24.4 million, the fourth highest year to date.

The $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, which launched quietly in January 2014 and had its public launch in November 2018, has surpassed $184 million in gifts and pledges.

The Lawrence Fund, which plays a significant role in supporting the campus’s operation, from scholarships and study abroad opportunities to athletics and campus upkeep, is coming off a particularly strong year. Support reached $3.9 million in the last fiscal year, second only to the 2015-16 year. Without the fund, it’s estimated each student’s tuition would increase by more than $10,000 per year.

The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying students, the Student Journey, which has welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.

Meanwhile, the recent $2.5 million gift from J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 to create an endowed professorship to teach the psychology of collaboration marked the latest in a string of endowed positions, supported by Lawrence alumni, that have boosted and diversified the school’s academic offerings.

Mike O’Connor is entering his first full academic year as Lawrence’s Riaz Waraich Dean of the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement (CLC), a recently endowed position that aims to better prepare students for life after Lawrence by, in part, enhancing connections with alumni in the students’ fields of interest.

The Forbes’ report comes one month before Lawrence’s sixth annual Giving Day, set for Oct. 10.

“Lawrence’s relationship with its alumni continues to be special,” Husmann said. “It’s a point of pride that those bonds don’t end when a student graduates. The ongoing support of current and future Lawrentians is critical, and our alumni rise to the occasion time after time.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu.

Lawrence Fund Enjoys Record-Breaking Year

Lawrence University alumni and friends rewarded first-year President Mark Burstein with a special present — a record-setting fundraising total.

Classroom_Annual Fund_newsblog
The Lawrence Fund provides essential support for virtually all aspects of a student’s education, including scientific equipment such as this re-circulating flume for the geology department.

But the real beneficiaries are Lawrence’s students.

For the recently completed 2013-14 fiscal year, the college raised an institutional record $3.7 million for the Lawrence Fund, breaking the previous mark of $3,647,259 set in 2008-09.

The Lawrence Fund, the college’s annual giving program, provides close to 10 percent of the annual operating budget and helps bridge the gap between what students pay in tuition and actual operating costs. The Lawrence Fund and endowment earnings help reduce each student’s tuition by more than $10,000 per year, provide much-needed support for everything from scholarships and classroom resources to athletic equipment and sheet music for conservatory students.

Lawrence’s overall fundraising for the 2013-14 fiscal year totaled $17,681,384, the sixth-most in school history.

“This past fiscal year’s record-setting Lawrence Fund total is testament to our alumni’s loyal support of the college’s mission. I’m humbled by the generosity of the 10,308 individual donors who gave to Lawrence last year,” said Burstein, who marked the end of his inaugural year as president June 30. Earlier this year, Forbes ranked Lawrence highest of any college or university in Wisconsin on its 2014 Grateful Grads Index.

Helping the Lawrence Fund establish an institutional all-time high was a record-setting gift of $804,817 by members of the Class of 1964, the most ever by a 50th reunion class.

Lawrence also added 90 new members in the past fiscal year to its Legacy Circle, the college’s planned giving program. It was the most new members in a single year since 2000 and raised the program’s total to a record 907 members.

“Making Lawrence more affordable is among our highest priorities,” said Burstein. “Support for the Lawrence Fund assures students and families from all incomes that a Lawrence education remains accessible at a time when they have less resources to support their children in college. No other form of giving has a more direct and meaningful impact on our students.”

For the second year in a row, the Lawrence Fund enjoyed 100 percent participation from all 30 members of the Lawrence Board of Trustees as well as all 35 members of the Lawrence University Alumni Association Board of Directors. Collectively, they contributed a total of $587,986 — nearly 16 percent — to the fund’s overall total.

Among Lawrence’s 20,500 alumni, nearly 36 percent contributed to Lawrence’s overall fundraising efforts in the past fiscal year. According to the New York City-based Council for Aid to Education’s most recent Voluntary Support of Education Report, private baccalaureate institutions averaged 20.1 percent alumni participation in 2012-13 (the most recent year for which figures are available.)

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.