Westmont Magazine A Five-Year Review
When The Westmont Fund debuted in 1995, the goal for annual giving was set at $950,000. Generous donors responded enthusiastically and gave a total of $1.1 million that first year.
Today the goal is $1.5 million, or 63 percent more. Last year giving to The Westmont Fund topped the 1995 mark by nearly 65 percent.
This tremendous success and rapid growth reveal the broad support that exists for Westmont and results from increased efforts by the college to strengthen its financial base.
The Westmont Fund was established to meet two goals. The first is bridging the gap between the cost of educating a Westmont student and the amount each student actually pays in tuition. The second is building a base of committed donors to the college.
Although Westmont is heavily dependent on income from tuition, the amount students pay doesn’t cover the complete cost of providing a high quality education. Each year the college raises money to close this gap, which has totaled about $2,000 per student. For example, last year, the cost of educating a student was $27,681, but students paid only $25,190. Donations to The Westmont Fund provide scholarships for deserving students, funding for important academic programs, and support for Reynolds Gallery and athletic scholarships.
Since its inception, The Westmont Fund has raised an increasing amount of money for essential programs to achieve the first goal. While the number of people making gifts has certainly grown, the college continues to work on broadening its donor base.
A major challenge in coming years is informing donors that every gift, no matter how small, makes a big difference. This is particularly true with alumni giving because the rate of participation is an important indication of a college’s quality. Publications that rank schools (such as U.S. News & World Report) and foundations that make gifts to higher education ask for this percentage.
Mary Given, executive director of alumni and parent relations, continues to work with the Alumni Board on strategies for increasing the number of alumni donors.“The message about the importance of each and every gift just isn’t getting out to alums,” Mary notes. “We are developing new ways to clearly communicate the importance of alumni giving.
“It’s not the amount of the gift that matters, but the fact of giving,” she continues. “We kow that most alums value their Westmont education and experience, so I believe they will respond when they understand how important every gift is to the college’s future.”
One success story is the growth of the Senior Challenge campaign. Graduating seniors set a new record last spring when 47 percent made a contribution. The class of 2000 is working to beat this mark, which has started a new tradition of participation at Westmont.