In the months following the coronavirus outbreak, institutions of higher learning across the country have struggled financially. Kenyon is no exception; not only has the College lost $600,000 since sending students home in mid-March, but it has also halted the solicitation of donations through the beginning of June to take nationwide financial instability into account.
By suspending giving for nearly three months, the Advancement Division’s Annual Giving staff was forced to cancel the annual Bell-a-thon, which typically generates a large portion of the College’s donations. Instead, the Annual Giving staff launched the Kenyon Together campaign in hopes of recouping the money the College has lost since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
Kenyon Together was held digitally from Wednesday, June 10 at 9 a.m. to Thursday, June 11 at 9 p.m. Although the Annual Giving staff had aimed to raise $600,000 from 500 donors, by the end of this 36-hour period, the campaign had successfully amassed $1,004,299 from 1,991 donors.
Director of Annual Giving Molly Gutridge ’99 said she was pleased with the results. “I’m not necessarily surprised, because our community is so loyal and wonderful, but I’m blown away and personally gratified,” Gutridge said.“It was just an incredible response.”
Gutridge credited much of the campaign’s success to the widespread support from young alumni. Together, 568 young alumni donated 29 percent of the money raised during Kenyon Together. Their average donation was $65.
Initially, many of these young alumni expressed some concern about giving to Kenyon in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and discussions surrounding systemic racism and police brutality. Since the movement encourages donations to organizations that directly support their cause, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Bail Project, among numerous others, some were hesitant to donate to Kenyon.
“These [issues] are all things that we care deeply about as a staff here at Annual Giving,” Gutridge explained. “So we wanted to work with our young alumni and find a way that they could feel comfortable supporting this milestone while supporting Kenyon at the same time.”
As a result, Gutridge and her staff made it possible for donations to be designated for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) and the Black Student Union (BSU). Ultimately, the Kenyon community raised $22,927 for ODEI and $11,092 for BSU by Thursday night.
Contributors could also earmark their donations for the Pope Memorial Annual Scholarship, scholarships and aid, the Student Emergency Assistance Fund, academic support, the Kenyon Women’s Annual Scholarship, athletics and fitness or for the area of greatest need.
BSU President Djibril Branche ’23 and BSU Vice President Tariq Thompson ’21 were incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support they received from donors, and were optimistic about the future.
“This is a vital opportunity to strengthen collegiate bonds within the community—we hope the College uses this moment to be transparent about the allocation of funds, paving the path for honest communication in the future. This honesty benefits everyone: collegiate offices, organizations, donors, and members of the community,” Branche and Thompson said in an email to the Collegian. “We have the opportunity to reshape the dynamics of our community—communication has always been the site of radical change.”
Kenyon Together’s success puts the Advancement Division much closer to the annual giving goals they had originally set for the current fiscal year, which will end on June 30.