William & Mary surpasses $800M mark in its $1B For the Bold campaign

With two years remaining in William & Mary’s For the Bold campaign, the university has now passed the $800 million mark and is nearing its $1 billion goal. As the No. 1 nationally ranked public university for undergraduate alumni participation, William & Mary has positioned itself as a leading university in philanthropic giving and engagement growth.  

In fiscal year 2018 (FY18), the Tribe family galvanized to fortify the university’s financial foundation and advance priorities and initiatives that have greatly impacted students, faculty, staff and alumni in the U.S. and around the globe. William & Mary has experienced a record increase in the total number of donors, including the number of loyal donors with consecutive-year giving, as well as an upsurge in alumni-related programming since the start of the campaign. 

The university has seen a two-fold increase in donors during the campaign — resulting in 50,277 individuals giving last year — and boasts one of the highest donor retention rates in the U.S., with 74 percent of undergraduate alumni renewing their investment in alma mater year after year. There has also been a 110 percent increase in the number of alumni participating in new and expanded offerings — including new career and networking opportunities — since the start of the campaign in FY12.

William & Mary Law School also experienced significant success by reaching its $75 million campaign goal two years early — the first school to achieve this milestone. The majority of the gifts in FY18 supported scholarships, which enables the oldest law school in the U.S. to compete nationally for student talent and continue its tradition of educating citizen lawyers. As the law school celebrates this accomplishment, the focus will remain on raising even more vital funds and building on their current track record of success.

“It has been incredible to witness how the momentum of our For the Bold campaign has brought so many people in our community together to support the university. We truly are One Tribe, One Family,” said President Katherine A. Rowe. 

“One of my top priorities over the next two years is to close our ambitious campaign triumphantly, by elevating philanthropy and engagement to historic levels. Through the generosity of our alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends, For the Bold's impact will be felt everywhere on campus and in every corner around the world where we have a presence,” Rowe added. 

In FY18, nearly $88 million was raised — the majority of which supports student scholarships, faculty and engaged learning. Gifts of $250 and less collectively added up to nearly $3.3 million, a significant jump from the first year of the campaign when small gift contributions came to a total of $2.3 million.

"The signs continue to point to the fact that all gifts – regardless of size – when added together, are an essential component of our campaign and a critical funding source for the experiences that define a William & Mary education,” said Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, For the Bold campaign chair. “We thank our donors for providing the means for the university to be bold in all of our endeavors."

William & Mary saw 18,940 undergraduate alumni give to their alma mater last fiscal year, assuring the university’s continued climb in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for alumni participation. In FY12, the university had a 23.6 percent participation rate. Today it is 28.7 percent, which places William & Mary first among all national public universities.

“The consistent dedication from alumni donors has led to an upward trajectory in the rankings. Continued support is essential for the university to reach its long-term 40 percent alumni participation goal, which would place the university among the top five universities, both public and private,” added Gerdelman.

While higher education institutions across the U.S. have experienced drastic declines in alumni retention and participation over the last decade, William & Mary continues to buck the trends. Bell Society membership, a designation earned by donors who give to the university in consecutive fiscal years, has steadily risen during the campaign. Eighty-four percent of all its members renewed their gifts in FY18, including 93 percent of donors with more than five years of consecutive giving history. 

Athletes continue to give to the university at the highest percentage, with 100 percent of student-athletes giving back to William & Mary last fiscal year. This is a trend that the university has seen year-after-year — an important one since the Athletics Department receives no funding from the state. 

"At William & Mary, we attribute our success in large part to the steadfast and generous support of our donors, who see the value in giving annually so that the Alma Mater of the Nation continues to thrive,” said Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for university advancement. “It is a true delight to see the way that our students and young alumni, in particular, are following the lead of previous generations and are playing a critical role in shaping our future. It takes the entire William & Mary family joining together to make the success we had this year possible, and we are thrilled at the prospect of great things to come.”