100 Percent: Building a Culture of Giving Back

By Elizabeth Ransom
Senior Writer

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Harvey, winner of this year’s National Day on Writing Headline contest!

School spirit seems to be on the rise at Washington College. With Habitat for Humanity’s impressive win in the Barnes & Noble College Bookstore “Build a Future” contest fresh on everyone’s minds, it is worth remembering another recent display of collegiate pride: last year’s senior class contributed to the Washington Fund at a rate of 100 percent.

The Washington Fund, which consists largely of donations from alumni and parents, supplements tuition and the College’s endowment. It is, according to the College website, “the first fundraising priority of WC,” helping to pay for scholarships, faculty and staff salaries, and campus “beautification.”
The Fund covers about 2.5 percent of the total cost for each student’s education. What students or their parents pay- in tuition, room, board, and student fees- covers only about 78 percent, with endowment and non-Fund scholarships picking up the rest.

“From my perspective, there was something especially vibrant and communal about the Class of 2012 that came to be reflected in their senior class gift effort,” said Rebekah Hardy, the director of Alumni Relations and Leadership Annual Giving at WC.

“From our very first conversations in October 2011, I could tell the class officers [Mike Zurawski, Catherine Petrick, and Stephan Jordan] were excellent students, ambassadors, friends, and they cared about this place with heartfelt sincerity – in short, they were the right people for the job. And it turned out, that was the key to achieving 100 percent participation in their senior class gift […] The officers themselves were absolutely the primary drivers of the fundraising effort,” she said.

But how did the officers convince their classmates to give? Hardy cites the pavers on the Cater Walk as motivation. The plaque, reading “The Class of 2012: 100% Participation in the Washington Fund,” has been cemented into the path alongside those from classes 2010 and 2011, which contributed at rates of 35 percent and 57 percent respectively.

“Their goal from day one was 100 percent, and they set off on achieving it by sending regular emails to their classmates with an explanation of the gift and a call to action,” said Hardy. The officers set up a table in the Hodson Student Center, and contacted classmates personally, in their efforts to make participation unanimous.

“Often times we hear the term ‘personal’ or ‘personalized’ used to describe Washington College and I think that concept reverberates among the Class of 2012,” Hardy said.

“I think the Class of 2012 had something special about them. We were always really involved on campus and we were all passionate about making it a better school,” said Morgan Philips, a member of the class who studied Spanish, business, and art during her time at WC. “It didn’t surprise me at all that we had 100 percent participation and hopefully we set the example for future classes. I had gotten so much out of four years as a student, that donating to the Washington Fund seemed like a really minimal sacrifice to show my gratitude.”

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