By Sean Leonard
On March 25, the College held its sixth annual Day of Giving. 2,049 donors consisting of alumni, staff, faculty, students, parents and friends raised over $334,000 to support the future of the College and its many programs, clubs, buildings and sports teams, the College announced in a school-wide email.
Charles Wright, Associate Vice President for College Advancement and Chief Development Officer, said that when the Day of Giving was implemented in 2015, the College did not know how much money would be raised, but it has continued to grow each year.
“We had low goals, but we did know that our alumni base really wanted to give back to students and that’s what we hear. So we thought, you know what, let’s try to raise money for our various schools and various programs that would have an impact on the student population,” Wright said. “It’s kind of just grown from there.”
Donors were given 19 options for different initiatives to support, including athletic teams, academic schools, programs and other specific funds. The TCNJ Fund encompasses scholarships, student programming, engaged learning and faculty enhancements. This can include research projects like MUSE, study abroad, leadership development programs and much more, according to the TCNJ Fund website.
“The TCNJ Fund is our unrestricted fund, so it provides funding for all various programs throughout the college,” Wright said. “So it goes through the foundation, and then the foundation allocates it to different programs: professional development for faculty, scholarships, etcetera throughout the college.”
The College normally hosts the Day of Giving inside the Brower Student Center (BSC) so students, faculty and staff can approach a table and donate, according to Christina DiBartolo, manager of the Annual Giving program.
DiBartolo said they were able to have a similar experience outside the Stud where there was a prize wheel for students who donated $5 to win prizes. The wheel was outside the BSC from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and prizes included tote bags, Roscoe plush animals, stickers, magnets and more.
DiBartolo said she was pleased with the turnout given the lack of students on campus and Wright said even some off-campus upperclassmen came to participate.
Besides the monetary donations and support, DiBartolo said the Day of Giving is a chance for the College community to come together, especially its alumni base.
“I’ll speak for myself, and I know I’m speaking for others. TCNJ has given us so much, and it really does propel you forward into whatever career or whatever it is that you want to do in life,” DiBartolo said. “So to have that opportunity to give back is really special in that it’s not just giving back to the students, but it was ‘I was in this program. This program changed my life, so I want to give back to make sure another student can have that same experience.’”
Wright said the Day of Giving also brings out the competitive nature of the College’s athletics programs. This year, the football team raised over $17,000 for its program, the most of any sports team.
“One sport wants to raise money or secure more donors than another sport. So, they can get their alumni on board with really pushing it out and asking their friends and peers and colleagues to make a donation,” Wright said.
Head Football Coach Casey Goff said that since his arrival in 2017, the team has never raised anything close to the amount they received this year. Goff said all of the donors, including current players, stepped up this year to support the team during the pandemic, and the board of their alumni association reached out to old teammates through email and social media. He said the money can be used to pay any expenses that cannot be covered by their budget.
“We use the money in a variety of ways to help support our athletes, whether it be field equipment, travel and workout gear, expenses with travel, expenses with recruiting, in-game nutrition, supplemental coaching staff, et cetera. It’s hard to list everything,” Goff said. “It’s a critical piece to ensuring our student-athletes and coaches get what they need to provide the best possible experience.”
Goff said this year’s Day of Giving for the team was a tremendous all-around effort, and it set the bar high for future fundraisers.
“It’s a critical piece to ensuring our student-athletes and coaches get what they need to provide the best possible experience,” Goff said. “Everybody has felt the effects of this pandemic. Our donors stepped up big to help us operate this spring and next season.”
Wright said that continuing such support after graduating and becoming an active alum is important. DiBartolo concurred, saying the Day of Giving is also a great opportunity to learn about what philanthropy looks like at the College, and how those donations are helping current and future students.
“It’s going to facilities, it’s going to research opportunities,” DiBartolo said. “So just getting more familiar with what philanthropy looks like at TCNJ and then, obviously, supporting whatever area means the most to you, even as a student, and then sharing that story with your parents and your friends and others, it’s like radiating the impact of that gift to different folks.”