Young Alumni Leading the Charge

A robust and enthusiastic alumni population has existed at William & Mary for generations, and its members have served as outstanding stewards of the university. Against a backdrop of nationally declining participation rates and weakened bonds between alumni and institution, William & Mary has prevailed.

It has been very evident since the start of our For the Bold campaign that the Tribe is strengthening a culture of engagement and philanthropy that will support the future of the university. And our young alumni are playing a vital role in this effort.

There's strength in numbers. Nearly one quarter of undergraduate alumni donors are members of the Young Guarde — that is, they graduated within the past 10 years. That's more than 4,600 donors!

Not only that, one out of every five donors who chose to make a gift in the last two fiscal years are members of the Young Guarde. Their consecutive years of giving show a real commitment and dedication to giving back from our newest alumni.

Young Guarde members are a big reason why William & Mary is bucking national trends in higher education philanthropy. They are actively contributing to all three goals of our For the Bold campaign — strengthened alumni engagement, 40 percent alumni participation and $1 billion — which has resulted in great impact our people both on and off campus.

For the most part, colleges and universities across the U.S. are seeing low engagement and giving rates among their young alumni — and the numbers are decreasing year after year. For William & Mary, however, we are experiencing the opposite.

For example, before the campaign began in July 2011, only 10 percent of Young Guarde members were giving back. Today, nearly 25 percent are giving back to their alma mater — something we all are proud of as it is unparalleled among other universities, both public and private.

Our most recent graduates are leading the charge. The Class of 2016, for example, was the first class at William & Mary to eclipse 30 percent alumni participation in their first year after Commencement with a remarkable 32 percent. Paired with an incredible turnout from the Young Guarde at Homecoming & Reunion Weekend 2017, recent graduates are participating and engaging like never before.

The future looks bright at William & Mary. If we keep up this fantastic momentum all of our ambitious campaign goals are within reach.

On behalf of William & Mary, I want to thank our young alumni for supporting their alma mater. So many lives have been changed for the better because of their generosity!

Dan Frezza is the associate vice president for lifetime philanthropic engagement & annual giving at William & Mary.