Recent fundraising efforts at Sacred Heart University have showcased the generosity and loyalty of both current and former students.
Through the Forever Pioneers program, 1,069 current SHU students donated a cumulative $20,517 to their university during the 2015-16 academic year. That total set a new record for the 5-year-old initiative, far surpassing last year’s amount of $13,646.
“It’s a remarkable testament to our student body, that they care so much about Sacred Heart that they’re already willing to give back and invest their dollars,” says Todd R. Gibbs, executive director for alumni relations. “It really sets a positive and compelling tone for other donors to give to the University when they see our students care so much about their Sacred Heart experience.”
Forever Pioneers launched in 2011 as the Senior Class Gift Program and quickly expanded to include all underclassmen. Student donors can designate where their dollars are used, from scholarships or athletic teams, to community service initiatives or specific colleges within the University, and more.
As in past years, The Levin Challenge matched the 2015-16 Forever Pioneers’ donations dollar-for-dollar. Alumni Gary Levin ’78 and Mary Ann Levin ’78—who have been instrumental in the program’s growth over the past few years—initially offered to match up to $15,000. But when students met that goal just a little more than halfway through the year, the couple raised the bar and offered to match the final amount.
“The Levins are extremely supportive of their alma mater, with Gary currently serving on the University’s Board of Trustees,” notes Gibbs.
In a parallel fundraising effort, Sacred Heart also is reaching out to its alumni base to increase the number of people who give back to their alma mater. For the 2015-16 year, Gibbs says, the university set a goal to reach 2,250 alumni donors. In the final month of that campaign, dubbed “Giving Month,” the effort was only 300 new donors short of the finish line.
“Our focus is on participation and providing alumni donors the ability to direct their gifts to programs and initiatives at Sacred Heart that resonate best with their own experiences,” says Gibbs. “We’re a tuition-driven institution, yet we have significantly increased our profile of student financial assistance to be able to make our educational experience possible for the most students. As a result, we need alumni to help bridge the gap by supporting scholarships, academic programs, educational enrichment initiatives, performing arts, Division I and club sports, and any other areas that interest them. We funnel those dollars directly where the alumni designate them.”
Gibbs points to the success of the Forever Pioneer enterprise as inspiration for those who came before. “Our alumni should feel encouraged by the student participation and be assured that when they give back to Sacred Heart, it’s a wise investment.”