In 2015, the College of William and Mary launched a major long-term fundraising campaign, “For the Bold.” In its initial launch, the campaign aspired for a monumental goal of raising $1 billion in donation revenue and focused on three essential pillars: “Where Great Minds Meet,” “Making the Remarkable” and “Passion for Impact.” These three pillars include initiatives for increased scholarships and faculty pay funding, the implementation and construction of on-campus better facilities and the promotion of enriched community engagement.
Specifically, $580 million of the campaign’s revenue has been allocated to the “Where Great Minds Meet” pillar, $320 million to the “Making the Remarkable” pillar and $100 million towards the “Passion for Impact” pillar.
Within the “Where Great Minds Meet” pillar, $350 million will be funding undergraduate, graduate, athletic and international scholarships; $200 million will be allocated towards faculty development and $100 million set towards furthering alumni engagement.
The Making the Remarkable Pillar was broken down to focus $110 million towards experimental learning outside of the classroom, $110 million towards advancing equipment, facilities and research, and the final $100 million for building and facilities.
Finally, the third pillar of the campaign, “Passion for Impact,” has been designated to use between $50-100 million for leadership development in students, $25-50 million for development of the College global presence in academics and research and $25-50 million towards civic engagement.
Along with these large monetary goals initially set by the campaign, the College hoped to increase alumni participation and relationships. The campaign is largely focused on alumni engagement and sought to strengthen ties between them and the College. When the campaign originally launched in 2015, 27.1 percent of alumni supported the school. In an effort to progress towards alumni participation numbers found within the United States’ top tier universities, the College established a goal of 40 percent alumni participation.
The campaign now sits at nearly $30 million under its goal of $1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2019, with around six months left before its official close. The campaign originally planned to end the goal June 30 to match the end of the fiscal year and has continued its commitment to this conclusion date.
Vice President for University Advancement Matthew Lambert ’99 shared information regarding the campaign’s progress, success and future. Lambert said the campaign has been largely successful, particularly in building relationships. The campaign’s goals had a wide variety of focuses creating a real impact across the College’s community.
“This has been a campaign about our people, and it is particularly gratifying to see the many ways the effort has benefitted our students and faculty. For the Bold has been a remarkable success and has succeeded in building a culture of engagement and philanthropy amongst our students, faculty & staff, parents, alumni and beyond.”
“The impact of the campaign can be felt everywhere – both on and off campus,” Lambert said in an email. “This has been a campaign about our people, and it is particularly gratifying to see the many ways the effort has benefitted our students and faculty. For the Bold has been a remarkable success and has succeeded in building a culture of engagement and philanthropy amongst our students, faculty & staff, parents, alumni and beyond.”
The Office of University Advancement is currently pursuing a finish within the next six months to officially close this five-year campaign. While there are loose plans for future fundraising campaigns, University Advancement is focusing on using this time to strategize for the future and strongly complete the current campaign.
Since donors have the ability to designate where donations go, there has been slight variance in the original numbers set for each group. However, Lambert mentioned that a majority of the donations have stayed right within the original designations for each group.
Lambert described the significance of this campaign to the College and the rarity of other similarly sized schools undertaking such an ambitious undertaking. The campaign has performed well so far in its pursuits, which Lambert highlights as a source of pride for the school.
“There are a couple of things that distinguish this campaign from others,” Lambert said in an email.
“There are a couple of things that distinguish this campaign from others,” Lambert said in an email. “… As President Rowe often says, we need to think about the long play. Having goals around alumni engagement and participation allows us to think about the university’s future financial stability, not just our current funding needs. Additionally, we are the only university of our size pursuing a $1 billion campaign that does not have an engineering or medical school. We have now passed the $960 million mark, so we should all feel great pride that our ambitious goal is well within our reach. This campaign puts us into a very small cohort of universities that have ever undertaken such an ambitious effort.”
Student Assembly President Kelsey Vita ’20, who also serves as a member of the Institutional Advancement Board, explained how the revenue raised from the campaign is being broken down into specific components throughout the College.
“The increased availability of scholarship resources will make higher education more accessible to a variety of students and will hopefully bring greater socioeconomic diversity to the university,” Vita said in an email. “The Lemon Project Memorial, the Neurodiversity Initiative, the Veterans Benefits Clinic, and the Haven Fund, to name a few, are all examples of initiatives highlighted by the For the Bold campaign.”
While she encouraged students who wanted to make donations to do so, Vita recognized the economic stances of college students, and the abundance of other potential areas of donation.
“But I do think that choosing a few, powerful causes at the university to financially support, when possible, is a great way to ensure the university continues to thrive once we leave.”
“Donating to the university is obviously not financially feasible for all students,” Vita said in an email. “College is expensive and especially in this day and time, there are a variety of important causes beyond the university that warrant our attention … So I never want a student who feels them-self called to other causes or is unable to donate for other reasons to feel pressured or guilted for not doing so. But I do think that choosing a few, powerful causes at the university to financially support, when possible, is a great way to ensure the university continues to thrive once we leave.”
Finally, Vita touched on how she believes the campaign and future campaigns can better reach students and alumni. Vita described how the campaign allows for broad participation, yet still focuses on its core principles. Vita also encouraged future campaigns to take a stronger focus on mental health issues from her knowledge of student-body needs.
“The campaign’s broad approach encourages more donations by asking alumni and students to choose where they would like to make their impact,” Vita said in an email. “While still maintaining the core pillars of scholarship, innovation, and impact, which drive the campaign. However, in a future fundraising campaign, I would love to see even more focused attention given to health and wellness issues…By setting clear, tangible fundraising goals for specific wellness causes such as counseling center resources, a future campaign could better situate itself for student engagement and impact.”
Since alumni played such a critical role in the success of this campaign, the College has seen both an increase in participation and excitement for a commitment to endeavors on campus. Executive Director for The William and Mary Alumni Association Marylin Midyette ’75 described how active the College’s alumni behave compared to other alumni.
“William & Mary alumni are unrivaled among public universities in the country,” Midyette said in an email. “I’m proud to say that W&M claims the highest alumni participation rate of any public institution in the US and we exceed many of our private and ivy league peers. Nearly 30% of our alumni give back to the university each year. Given the size of our alumni base, this is nothing short of remarkable.”
Midyette assured that many alumni were extremely excited to participate in this campaign. The campaign has brought many members of the College community together in settings both on and off campus. According to Midyette, support for the campaign has created over 500 new scholarships and will help several different departments around campus.
“Our alumni are committed to ensuring William & Mary maintains its reputation as one of the leading liberal arts institutions in this country with a global reputation and brand,” Midyette said.
“Our alumni are committed to ensuring William & Mary maintains its reputation as one of the leading liberal arts institutions in this country with a global reputation and brand,” Midyette said. “It is important that we maintain that perch for all time coming…They want to ensure that future generations of students have the same high-quality experience, if not better, that they had.”