March is a particularly busy time of year for the Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Mercyhurst.
The office’s March campaign reaches out to alumni through mail, email, websites and over the phone for donations to support the university’s Annual Fund. This year, almost 70 percent of Mercyhurst’s fiscal goal for the year has been met.
Tamara Walters, the Director of the Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, said that the March campaign is one of their most popular giving campaigns.
“A spike in alumni donations is typical for this time of year,” Walters said.
The money received through the campaign contributes to the Annual Fund, which offsets the operations budget used to run Mercyhurst programs. The Annual Fund is unrestricted, meaning that it funds university scholarships, athletics, academic programs and meets other university needs, according to Walters.
The number of contributions has risen significantly since the campaign started in February. Their goal is to reach a 20% alumni participation rate.
“We tend to have great success during this campaign,” said Walters. “It’s [fiscally] definitely where we want to be.”
This campaign also helps with increasing alumni participation rates.
Alumni who contribute at least $15 during the March giving campaign are given a small gift in appreciation. In acknowledgment of their philanthropy, donors receive customized t-shirts designed to incorporate both Mercyhurst and St. Patrick’s Day.
“At the Alumni Relations office, we want to encourage alumni to display a sense of ‘LakerPride,’” said Walters. The shirts serve as a way to “represent Mercyhurst around the world,” Walter added, and also allow alumni to keep in touch with their Alma Mater.
“They are not a reward to donors, they are a relationship builder,” Walters said.
According to Walters, the March campaign is successful partly due to the positive connection between Mercyhurst alumni to St. Patrick’s Day and the University’s Irish roots.
Some research suggests that people who were highly involved as students are likely to be highly involved post –graduation. The alumni relations office keeps this idea in mind as they shape and improve their fundraising methods, according to Walters.
“My goal is to keep alumni engaged and wanting to support and invest back into their alma mater,” Walters said.
She believes that while it is important to reach out to graduates, current students are just as important for university empowerment.
“Students are Lakers for Life,” said Walters. “We feel that each generation of graduates can aid the next through alumni donations. We hope to maintain close relations between past, present and future students.”