While high-profile gifts and long-term projects draw the headlines during a campaign such as Excelsior, another fundamental measure of a campaign's success lies in its capacity to meet current needs — particularly the financial-aid needs of students — in a flexible way that responds to the demands of the year, the day, the moment.
In that regard, the Annual Fund has played a critical role in Excelsior by delivering support where and when it is needed. "One of the wonderful things I have learned is that our alumni take enormous pride in Hamilton's long tradition of being a college of opportunity," says George Baker '74, current chair of the Annual Fund. "They respond most favorably to the idea of helping worthy and talented students with financial aid, so that they too can come to Hamilton and experience the College as a gateway to their own success in this world."
Emily Chamberlain '10 understands the impact of that largesse. Thanks to the Joseph F. Anderson Internship Fund, established in honor of a 1944 Hamilton graduate who served the College for 18 years as vice president for communications and development, the sociology major was able to spend the summer in an unpaid internship, doing work that not only gave her valuable experience but also shaped her career plans. "It enabled me to peek into the legal profession before launching into a law school education that I may have not been interested in," she says. "Luckily, I absolutely loved my time working for the Hon.William K Sessions III in Vermont and have decided to pursue law school."
Doing an unpaid internship with a U.S. district judge would not have been possible without the College's support, Chamberlain says. "I don't have the resources to support myself for a summer without some sort of income, and the Anderson Fund allowed me to have that income and work at a job that I was truly interested in and changed my life."And she's not alone, she says; such support is "incredibly valuable for current Hamilton students and generations to come."
As unrestricted gifts, contributions to the Annual Fund "help offset the gap between tuition and the actual cost of educating Hamilton undergraduates," says Jon Hysell '72 P'04, director of Annual Giving. The fund provides, on average, one dollar out of every four that Hamilton spends on scholarships. Over the course of Excelsior, the Annual Fund has contributed about $37 million to Excelsior — every penny of it readily available for a range of needs.
This "pooling of many gifts," Baker says, represents "the power of collective giving" — a power that is further reflected in the growing roster of Joel Bristol Associates, supporters who have made provisions for Hamilton through estate plans or planned gifts. Over the course of Excelsior, the ranks of Bristol Associates grew by 37 percent, to 585 total members. "Planned gifts provide the College with the ability to predict cash flows that might be relied upon to meet ongoing operating needs,"
Baker says. "Working together, the Annual Fund and planned giving represent extremely valuable elements of Hamilton's total funding picture."
"Annual Fund giving is unrestricted giving, which is critical to enabling the College to meet a range of necessary expenses throughout the year that are not otherwise funded by the endowment," says George Baker '74, chair of the Annual Fund. "With a significant portion of Hamilton's endowment restricted in use to specified targeted purposes, the adequacy of unrestricted funds is enormously important. More ...