BowdoinOne Day, an annual fundraiser which took place on April 26, helped the College reach 8,250 contributions this fiscal year and brought in over $1.9 million toward the College’s Alumni Fund, Polar Bear Athletic Fund, Parents Fund and Friends Fund, with an average donation of $850.
Although the number of contributions was shy of the Office of Alumni and Development’s goal of 8,400 donations, the annual giving campaign is on pace for a record year in terms of dollar amount, according to Director of the Alumni Fund Aric Walton.
“By the time all the accounting’s done we’re actually going to be roughly six hundred thousand dollars ahead of where we were at this point last year,” said Walton. “We had some great generosity across the board in terms of all our different constituency groups.”
Because it is a participation-based initiative, BowdoinOne Day goals are set based on previous years’ donation trends and current year-to-date donor lists, among other factors. Walton said that, while the College aims to meet its goal, it always sets a tough target.
“Goals should be a challenge to meet,” he said.
Walton believes that part of the success of this year’s campaign lies in an expansion in the number of volunteers. This increase is an ongoing effort over the past five years, and there are now over 830 alumni volunteering to help solicit donations from other alumni.
The College publicizes BowdoinOne Day through direct emails but also makes use of social media to publicize the fundraiser, encouraging students, alumni, faculty and staff to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other outlets using the BowdoinOne Day hashtag.
“It’s not just a broad-based email or a letter that we’re hoping people will read, they’re hearing it from their classmates, they’re seeing it on social media,” said Walton.
Fundraising efforts over the past five years have also aimed to balance solicitations with messages of gratitude and appreciation for donors.
“You don’t always want to be in an ask mode, you want to be appreciative of it,” said Walton. “I think in the last five years we’ve really kind of doubled down on the mindset that we want to be as good at thanking as we are at asking.”
The Senior Class Gift Campaign (SCGC) is a fundraising drive alongside BowdoinOne Day but aimed specifically at graduating seniors. These contributions go towards a scholarship for a member of the class of 2021 and are counted as part of the BowdoinOne Day campaign. The campaign currently has received 260 gifts, putting it at a participation rate of 55.4 percent. If the campaign reaches a 60 percent participation rate an anonymous donor will contribute $10,000.
Rachel Norton ’17 decided to help run the SCGC after learning about the personalized ways that volunteers connect with their classmates and encourage them to contribute.
“It was this engaging, educational campaign where each person was talked to one-on-one, and their questions were answered and they were told about it,” she said. “I really liked that aspect that each person in the class got connected to individually.”
Norton tries to meet individually with each member of the senior class assigned to her.
“I feel like that’s more effective to kind of explain things or answer any questions,” she said.
Looking to the future, Walton hopes that the BowdoinOne Day fundraising campaign can continue to convey to the Bowdoin community the importance of giving to the College, and the value that a Bowdoin education holds for each student.
“I think it has kind of put a spotlight on what’s happening here on campus—to let people know what students and faculty and staff are up to,” he said. “We’d like to kind of celebrate all of that, and use it as an opportunity to show people authentically why it’s worth supporting.”
Editor’s note, May 5, 1:42 pm: This story has been updated to reflect the timeframe of the accounting for the BowdoinOne Day initiative. An earlier version of the article implied that the College received 8,250 gifts in April. The College received 8,250 this fiscal year.