Connecting alumni

A side project of mine for years now has been support and fundraising for Penn State students involved with The LION 90.7fm, the campus radio station.

I’m not the most prolific fundraiser by any means, but I’ve been happy to help spur more than $50,000 in gifts in the past five years, and expect to reach ~$100,000 in gifts by 2020. At that point if not sooner, I’m hoping that Penn State’s professional fundraisers will make endowing the campus station a priority. If nothing else, I’ll have done about as much volunteer fundraising for campus radio as I’m likely to want to do. But as I get older I’m placing more value in relationships with students and alumni than the gifts they make.

On Monday I emailed a new prospect list that Penn State gave me containing nearly 2,000 graduates who had some involvement with campus media and those likely connected to campus radio. It was a very light email and I wrote it in friendly tone, asking if they wanted to hear from me again and acknowledging that it might be strange/annoying that a stranger was emailing them like this. I asked them to write back and let me know if they wanted to stay in touch. I estimated that somewhere between 100-300 people would subscribe to receive future emails, and so far 127 have subscribed. A little on the low end of what I had hoped, but still encouraging.

Encouraging because more than a dozen of those who subscribed for future emails from me also wrote with personal memories of their time on campus dating as early as the 1960s. About a dozen gave me their numbers and I worked my way through phone calls with many of them this week, getting to know them. I’m not ready to share anything from those conversations yet, but I hope to keep getting to know a lot of these people.

I’ll be writing to them 5-6 times per year (and only asking for money 1-2 times per year), and those writings will appear here, too.