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Alumni focus on supporting W&M, setting participation records

  • Beat the Record
    Beat the Record  The challenge was initiated in 2011 to rally unprecedented philanthropic support among alumni for William & Mary by the end of each fiscal year on June 30.  
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For Maddy Smith ’13, William & Mary’s “Beat the Record” challenge is personal.

The challenge was initiated in 2011 to rally unprecedented philanthropic support among alumni for William & Mary by the end of each fiscal year on June 30. Private gifts like these provided opportunities for Smith to study and work in Mexico and Washington, D.C., after her freshman and sophomore years, respectively.

“Now that I’ve graduated, I have truly come to realize how special a place William & Mary is,” Smith said. “I realize the impact the professors and organizations have really had on my life. The school has given us so much. We all need to give back.”

Smith of Orcas Island, Wash., graduated from William & Mary with a degree in international relations. She soon will head to Thailand as a fellow with the nonprofit educational organization Global Playground. As co-chair of the Senior Class Gift Committee, she urged fellow classmates and all alumni to help break the record for the number of donors who give to William & Mary by June 30.

Smith said financial donations to William & Mary have a lasting, tangible impact.

“Collectively, thousands of individual gifts can provide great impact with much-needed scholarships and support for student and faculty research and programs,” said William & Mary’s Rector Jeffrey B. Trammell ’73. “The characteristics that define the university — small class sizes, exceptional faculty, the abundance of opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research or pursue study abroad — require steady and robust private support,” he said.

Although William & Mary is a state institution, only 12 percent of the university’s annual operating funds come from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which makes private support from alumni, parents and friends particularly important.

Overall, more than 30,300 individuals, corporations and foundations made donations in 2012, a record. So far in 2013, 16,257 undergraduate and graduate alumni have contributed to Beat the Record. In 2012, a record number from that same group — 17,955 — contributed to the university.

In addition to raising critical funds for the university, undergraduate alumni participation plays a role in competitive rankings. William & Mary was ranked 33rd overall in U.S. News & World Report’s latest annual college guide published in September 2012.

Student philanthropy also is very significant. Already, 61 percent of seniors who graduated on May 12 have participated in the Beat the Record challenge with their contributions to the Senior Class Gift.

“Their level of giving shows they have an appreciation and understanding of giving back, and that they want to leave a legacy for future students,” said Dustin Evatt, William & Mary’s coordinator for Student Philanthropy and Recent Graduate Programs.

Smith agrees. “We want students to adopt the habit of giving to the university that lasts long after they graduate,” she said. “I think we’re off to a good start.”         

Learn more about private giving at William & Mary or make a gift before June 30 at