Belmont Hill and Winsor: Alumni Giving?

Have you ever wondered about the real purpose of Giving Day or how it works?  Well, it is no question that alumni donations are important aspects of funding for all schools, including both Winsor and Belmont Hill. These donations not only help the schools run day-to-day but also allow them to go above and beyond in the opportunities they give their students.  However, the two schools have slightly different methods of acquiring these donations: Giving Day is an important event in this process for Winsor and the YARA program is instrumental for BH. “It is important to find out what methods work for each specific school in order to maximize the donations they receive,” notes Molly Perkins, the Director of Annual Giving and Advancement Operations at Winsor.  

On February 14, Winsor had its second annual Giving Day and raised over $215,000.  The concept of Giving Day was brought by Ms. Perkins, who was inspired by a similar event at her prior job at Tufts University.  This year’s Giving Day effort was very successful, acquiring 930 donations and surpassing the 500 donation goal set by the Advancement Office.  Achieving this goal also means that Winsor unlocked an additional 100,000 dollars in challenge gifts from The Winsor Annual Fund.  

Ms. Perkins attributes Giving Day’s success to the “friendly competition between alumni classes to out-donate each other.”  The competition aspect of the event fosters enthusiasm and excites members of the community to give. Furthermore, because Giving Day is a singular day, alumni are inspired to give because they are all working together to contribute to a common goal.  

While Giving Day is a well-known fundraising event among Winsor students, they are mostly unaware of the hard work put into making this day possible.  Catherine Friendly ’21 notes that she “is aware of Giving Day when it happens but besides that [does] not know how the event actually functions.” The Giving Day effort is mostly driven by volunteers from different graduating classes. These people are alumni who stay involved with Winsor long after they graduate.  Volunteers reach out to their fellow classmates and encourage them to donate to and support Winsor. The annual Giving Committee also works to broadcast information about Giving Day to alumni.  

Ms. Perkins commented that “Giving Day has provided a means for alumni to refamiliarize themselves with the Winsor community and, specifically this year with the implementation of the Thank-a-Thon, a project that included students writing thank you notes to alumni that donated, has bridged the gap between student interaction and alumni.”

Belmont Hill, like Winsor, also has long-standing successful methods of gathering donations from alumni.  Belmont Hill’s methods are similar to those of Winsor in that they connect current students with alumni, but BH fosters this connection in a slightly different way. 

Belmont Hill prides itself on having a strong alumni network built upon the lifelong relationships that the school develops between both former and current students and faculty. The Young and Recent Alumni (YARA) program, for example, engages “alumni through college visits, specialized events with faculty, networking events with fellow Belmont Hill Alumni, and targeted communications” through their tenth reunion. The school hopes to make Belmont Hill a supportive community that will stay with its members for life. At the center of it all is the Alumni House.

Situated at 19 Marsh Street, across the road from the main section of campus, the Alumni House is constantly at work developing and executing their plans for outreach. Until a student’s senior year, they interact little with this branch of the school. The Alumni House spends each year developing their relationship with the current graduating class, hosting a number of Alumni House breakfasts and snack-bars to familiarize students with this new side of the school. Certain seniors even participate in the Alumni Ambassador program, working directly with the House in soliciting donations, writing thank-you letters to alumni, and raising class awareness for fundraising initiatives. This responsibility extends beyond senior year, as these ambassadors become the Alumni House’s representatives for each class throughout their adult life.

Every year, the ambassadors and the House spearhead a senior-class fundraiser called the “Alumni Fund.”. Rather than focusing on the monetary value of each donation, Belmont Hill encourages reaching 100% participation each year. That way, every member of the class can feel as if they have contributed without incurring any financial burden. For the Alumni House, the Alumni Fund is the first step on a student’s path to a lasting relationship with their school.

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