“At Cornell we depend so much on philanthropy,” said President David J. Skorton last night at a kick-off event for the 2007 Senior Class Campaign.
About 60 student leaders from the Class of 2007 gathered in The Johnson Museum of Art to hear the officers of the Senior Class Campaign, a few influential alumni and President Skorton speak about this philanthropic undertaking.
Historically, the purpose of the campaign has been to encourage early involvement of seniors in the fundraising efforts and alumni programs at Cornell. With that, the campaign strives to increase awareness of the importance of annual fund giving, which allows the University to support a need-blind admissions policy, provide faculty support and meet emerging needs.
The SCC’s most important goals involve building class unity and loyalty to Cornell, as well as nurturing and developing leaders for future involvement with the University.
Even though this year’s campaign — “Give Strong 2007”— is still in its early stages, it has been going well, according to Neala Gollomp ’07, SCC’s vice president of publicity. As of yesterday evening, the campaign had reached 10.5 percent participation level, in contrast to last year’s 5 percent on the same date.
Gollomp attributes this success partly to an advertising mailing which was sent out to seniors in the beginning of the last semester. The target participation rate is 50 percent.
Kelly Makosch ’97, an undergraduate development officer who has been coordinating SCC’s activities over the course of the past few years, said that every year SCC’s officers come up with better ideas, which are indispensable for high levels of participation.
In order to become active participants of the campaign, seniors make at least a $20 dollar donation to the University. While $10 is used to cover class dues, which will pay for the first class reunion, the remaining money is allocated to a specific college or organization, as requested by the contributor. In addition, graduating seniors will receive next year’s alumni magazine.
“It’s not really about how much money we are raising, it’s more about the fact that we are working with the seniors to get them to be aware that giving back to Cornell is so important,” Gollomp emphasized.
The money will go to the Class of 2007 endowment, and a substantial part of it will be used to sponsor a scholarship.
With graduating seniors’ continued contributions in the future, the endowment will grow and allow more students to have scholarships. In support of this prediction, Gollomp said that the Class of 1954 endowment, for example, received roughly $29 million just this year.
In an effort to help build awareness of the Cornell Annual Fund, encourage participation and provide the graduating class with an opportunity to leave a permanent legacy, Martha Coultrap ’71, a member of the Board of Trustees, announced last night that she will endow a $25,000 scholarship when 1,000 seniors contribute to “Give Strong 2007.”
“I wanted the gift that I make to Cornell to benefit a number of people, be long-lasting, and be transformative not only to the beneficiaries but to others as well,” said Coultrap. “I trust that my challenge will help you reach your goal of building a cohesive class of dues-payers and donors, in addition to establishing a scholarship.”
To further promote participation, SCC will sponsor a series of 30 phone-a-thons, where volunteer Cornellians will call up their fellow students or alumni and encourage new contributions or renewed support for the endowment.
According to Scottie McQuilkin ’07, the co-president of the SCC, students will have a chance to host their own phone-a-thons. To do so, they will have to recruit a team of 15 people, who will make calls during a special phone-a-thon night in April. Those who cannot make such a commitment are still encouraged to participate through volunteering for as many phone-a-thons as they wish.
According to Gollomp, Greek sorganizations will also help out with fundraising. As a part of the “Greek Challenge,” which is still in development, SCC will set up competitions between fraternities and sororities to see which house can attract the largest number of givers.
“It’s very important to think of this competition not in monetary terms; this really will make a difference in peoples’ lives,” President Skorton said.
He stressed that contributing to the SCC is “a way to see what you can do for the next generation of Cornellians” and he promised to actively support SCC’s activities in the years to come.