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'Old' young alum inspires 'new' young alums through annual gift

Anonymous donor's matching gift inspires the second-largest total gift from a Hopkins senior class
Posted June 7, 2017
Krieger School Dean Beverly Wendland, right, was one of several Krieger School Dean Beverly Wendland, right, was one of several "celebrity scoopers" of Rita's Italian Ice at an event in April promoting the senior class giving campaign.

The ask to make a senior class gift is almost as much a Commencement tradition as the playing of Pomp and Circumstance. But Hopkins' Class of 2017 had an extra incentive to give back to their soon-to-be alma mater, thanks to a generous gift to the Hopkins Fund by an anonymous young alum. As the class' donations climbed past several participation milestones, the seniors "unlocked" different levels of matching funds from the young alum's gift.

The Class of 2017 made 700 gifts totaling more than $20,000 by Commencement day on May 24, marking only the second time a senior class has achieved the 700-gift milestone. Including the alum's contribution, the class gave more than $25,000 to Hopkins, the second-highest total in the university's history. Seniors could dedicate their gift — the requested $20.17 or any other amount they chose — to the parts of Hopkins they felt most passionately about, including undergraduate financial aid, faculty support, and the Homewood student experience.

In addition to providing attainable milestones that motivated donors, the young alum's gift gave the senior class gift executive committee flexibility in marketing to students, says Sam Sands, A&S '17, a member of the leadership group.

The campaign kicked off in mid-February with a Friday-evening event in the Gilman Hall atrium featuring a DJ, photo booth, food and drink, and Hopkins swag. On a gorgeous late-April afternoon, senior class donors gathered on The Beach for complimentary Rita's Italian Ice doled out by celebrity scoopers including Whiting School Dean Ed Schlesinger, Krieger School Dean Beverly Wendland, and Director of Athletics Alanna Shanahan. And on May 19 — days before commencement — the committee encouraged seniors on campus and via social media to make a gift to Johns Hopkins on what would have been the university founder’s 222nd birthday.

Through it all, seniors were reminded of the important rite of passage they would make through their contribution to the class gift — their first step of many in giving back to Hopkins as a graduate. And what better example to follow, Sands says, than that of a now-fellow alum?

"We were about to become young alumni, and to know someone who wasn't that much older than us, who was so willing and eager to support us at that level, was very inspiring," Sands says.

Want to be the alum who inspires the Class of 2018's senior class gift campaign or wish to support Homewood students in other ways? Make a gift to The Hopkins Fund today.