a group of people standing before a chapel

20,000 Laurentians and Counting

The Campaign for Every Laurentian was a success. What’s Next?

Deborah Dudley

On June 30, 2021, St. Lawrence celebrated the completion of the most successful campaign in University history. Led by Trustee Co-chairs Sarah Johnson ’82, P’15 and Jay Ireland ’77, P’00, the six-year Campaign exceeded its goal and raised more than $232 million in gifts and commitments. 

Most people, however, never think about what happens after a campaign comes to an end. The need for support continues, and fundraising leadership transitions. For Trustees Will Wilson ’88, P’23 and Joanie Byrne Hall P’17, co-chairs of the University Advancement Committee, the traction of The Campaign for Every Laurentian’s record-breaking success provides them numerous opportunities to continue to raise the bar. Wilson and Hall now lead the UA Committee’s efforts and are playing a key external role post-campaign in our fundraising and engagement strategies.

“The first misconception people have,” says Wilson, “is that when a campaign is over, the work is done.” He explains that, in some ways, the work of realizing and applying the support is just beginning, and the lessons learned during the Campaign can propel a new phase of engagement. 

Another misconception is that all the money raised is immediately available. In reality, even though $232 million was raised from more than 20,000 Laurentians, some gifts are in the form of multiyear pledges that are paid over years, and others are deferred gifts or part of an estate plan not immediately accessible to University programs. The annual commitments of every Laurentian remain critical to operations and innovations on campus and across Laurentian networks.

“The beauty of the campaign we just had is that not only did alumni and parents become more engaged, they became more informed,” says Tom Pynchon, vice president for University Advancement. “We were able to speak with Laurentians about current needs, and now, we are able to have additional conversations about new priorities for the University and where their support can make the greatest impact.”

Wilson and Hall are clear that emerging priorities will be determined by several factors, including the work that has been done throughout the last campaign along with the outcomes and strategic plans from The Experience St. Lawrence Task Force, under the new leadership of President Kathryn A. Morris, who took the helm on July 1, 2021. 

“Taking into account that the University had to navigate a global pandemic, while steering the most ambitious campaign in its history,” says Hall, “we’ve learned a lot.” Laurentians are eager to connect on digital platforms, such as events via Zoom. 

“Laurentians who may not have otherwise been able to join in on an event for geographical reasons, work, or other conflicts were able to be included through digital platforms,” Hall says. “The diversity of engagement increased as well.” 

“We have people who are now on board that weren’t on board before,” says Hall, “and we’re going to be able to talk to them about current needs post-campaign.” For Hall, it could be any number of examples of post-Campaign engagement, such as supporting the St. Lawrence Fund each and every year, that allows the University to meet the ongoing and evolving needs of our students. 

“Basically, the Campaign has enabled us to have additional conversations with alumni that we would never have had before,” says Wilson.

Wilson and Hall reflect on the number of alumni and parent volunteers who were involved during the Campaign and know that those volunteers will be critical to our success moving forward. 

As two Laurentians who participated in The Campaign for Every Laurentian, Wilson and Hall recognize that donors are willing to be supportive when they engage in multiple ways and are passionate about the University and the programs that are meaningful to them. 

“Our job will be to make sure every Laurentian knows the needs and opportunities,” says Wilson, “so we can use our momentum to keep breaking records.”