Every year Marist staff and faculty say farewell to the graduating class, while the Office of College Advancement is merely opening its doors to them. Located on the ground floor of Fontaine Hall, this office is home to Marist Alumni everywhere.
Philanthropy is simply a fancy word for giving back. As Marist Alumni successfully dive deep into the workforce, it is common for many of them to return their gratitude through donations to the place that got them started.
Every semester Marist College sees new plans for a building that’s going to be constructed the following year, spaces being renovated, technology on campus constantly updated, all while new student programs appear. Student’s tuition covers a great portion of all these plans, but with the on going progress at Marist, it is also the Alumni that help in these developments. Fortunately, with their generous donations and loyal support Marist has continued to grow.
Vice President for College Advancement, Chris Delgiorno, discussed the vital role this office plays on campus. Consisting of 3 separate areas within the office, Delgiorno went into detail explaining how each department functions cohesively.
One aspect of this office looks at the development and fundraising needed to keep Marist on a successful path, while the other takes a more careful approach at Alumni Relations. The Office of College Advancement is a tremendous help in allowing these Marist alumni become active members of the Marist community, engaging them in the life of the college even years after they graduated. While the last area looks at the public relations side, which Chief Public Affairs Officer, Greg Cannon handles all Marist College interfaces with the media.
Taking on the role of Vice President of College Advancement is not a simple task. Although a substantial part of the job is getting donations, Delgiorno stated that this would be impossible if there was no solid foundation, “The core of good development work is building connections with all the colleges major groups: alumni, friends, family.”
As Vice President, he works closely with leadership in each of the areas within the Office, working alongside, now, President David Yellen. Travelling around the country visiting alumni and creating fundraising events to develop relations for Marist. “It’s not just about funding a relationship but opening doors for students for internships and jobs” Delgiorno states about creating these Alumni connections.
Last year, the Office of College Advancement was able to raise $13.6 million dollars from fundraising. This includes money from different donors, foundations, corporations, and endowed scholarships. For example, last year Marist Alum Bill O’Reilly donated $1 million in honor of a professor he had, while Tim Tenney, CEO of Pepsi-Cola of the Hudson Valley donated another $1 million to go towards Tenney Stadium.
Of those $13.6 million that was acquired through rigorous fundraising, $1.42 million was from the annual gift fund — money that was directly raised from alumni, parents, and friends. Just for perspective purposes, that is close to 17,000 families who graciously donated money in just one year. As Delgiorno further explained, the annual gift fund is raised through unrestricted funds –in other words, Marist has the liberty to choose the direction of where that money goes.This means that the money is usually allocated towards financial aid and student programs, stating that “The money we raise here is primarily used toward the college student experience.”
Another huge aspect that really allows the Office of College Advancement to fund raise money and get as many donations as they do is thanks to the call center on campus. The Marist Student Phonathon Association is an on campus job, in which student workers call alumni and parents to update their files on the system but also explain more about our fundraising programs at Marist.
Not just a phone solicitation, but rather an effective method that connects student callers and alumni. “Alumni appreciate hearing from current students” explained VP Delgiorno as he mentioned that a lot of the times alumni will want to stay on the phone conversing with students about what is new at Marist. This phone call provides them with the opportunity to actively become engaged with the Marist Community, giving them a glimpse of what new Marist has to offer, all while bringing in a sense of nostalgia from their own college years.
This time next year, some of us will be considered alumni of Marist College –and staying connected after graduation is tough. I do know that now when I see that 845 number on my phone, it’s my Alma Mater calling to reach out. And it’s the least we could do for a place that offered so many opportunities all while being a home.