Wandering into the Meredith Alumnae House during this year’s Founders’ Week, Feb. 25-Mar. 1, is met with a unique atmosphere of bustle and excitement. In part by design and in part by coincidence, Founders’ Week this year contains not only Founders’ Day, Giving Day and other Merediththemed celebrations, but also the commemoration of Meredith’s Beyond Strong campaign.
The Beyond Strong campaign began in July of 2012 and wrapped in December 2018. In February 2016, the campaign had already raised $26 million, and at that time the college also announced that the campaign’s final goal would be $75 million. As of August 2018, donors had given a total of $86,355,254. “We well surpassed our goal,” says President Jo Allen, “proving how beloved this College is,” but the final campaign sum has been kept secret. On Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m., Dr. Allen will announce the number at the Founders’ Day Celebration in the Johnson Hall Rotunda, but the campaign is without a doubt Meredith’s largest, most successful fundraising effort. Founders’ Day, always on Feb. 27, commemorates the founding of Meredith College on that day in 1891.
Giving Day, or Make It Count for Meredith Day (#makeitcount4MC), always occurs on the Tuesday of every Founders’ Week. This year, for Meredith’s fourth annual Giving Day, we raised $536,877 in donations in 24 hours, exceeding the goal of $400,000. This year’s goal is $50,000 greater than last year’s; but with such a small and devoted donor and alumnae base, the college is always expected to be ambitious when it comes to fundraising goals, says Erin Cleghorn, the director of the Meredith Fund, so it wasn’t too zealous to set a goal much larger than the last.
Donors on Giving Day (or to any Meredith campaign on any day) can provide their relationship to the college, their class year (if applicable) and their intentions for their donations. Alumnae of Meredith accounted for 83% of donations, parents accounted for 8%, faculty and staff accounted for 5%, current students accounted for 3% and friends of the college accounted for 2%. Donors’ class year affiliations (of alumnae, students or parents) ranged from 1938 to 2024—1985 yielded the most money raised, while 2004 yielded the greatest number of donors. Donors also chose where their money would be allocated: the most popular category was “College’s Greatest Needs.” “We really push for donations of that kind because they’re the true lifeblood of the college,” says Erin Cleghorn; they fund anything the college needs— everything from scholarship tuition to facilities improvements.
The best part of Founders’ Week, says Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cindy Godwin, is that it encourages and celebrates members of the Meredith community working towards a common goal. “The more the merrier,” she welcomes. For Giving Day, donors were encouraged to donate in the name of the strong women in their lives, and it is thanks to their donations that Meredith College can keep putting those strong women into the world.
By Mimi Mays, Associate Editor