Members of the VMI family—alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends—showed their tremendous support for the Institute during the online giving campaign, VMIssion Endures. All told, 931 donors—more than the goal of 900—gave $435,453.74 from April 4–7, 2022.
This was the fourth such effort conducted by the VMI Alumni Agencies, and like the previous efforts, many were involved in its development and success. “It was a wonderfully coordinated effort,” said Patti Cook, VMI Alumni Agencies director of annual and reunion giving. “Faculty and staff, everyone at the Agencies, alumni, and other members of the VMI family helped ensure this came together.”
Members of the faculty and staff, including the superintendent, appeared in promotional videos distributed to the VMI family. The message was simple and forceful: VMI’s mission—to graduate young people comprehensively prepared to be honorable, selfless, and purposeful servant-leaders— endures, as does the extraordinary way VMI accomplishes it. Moreover, those who execute that noble mission on post—the faculty, coaches, and staff—need the active partnership of those off post—alumni, families, and friends.
While the campaign’s purpose was the same as before—to raise money in support of the Institute and the Corps of Cadets—it did not have a dollar goal. Instead, the focus was on the number of donors. “We wanted to encourage participation, to give donors who might not respond to conventional fundraising appeals a chance to support the Institute,” explained Cook. “It was great to see the numbers steadily climb toward the goal and then break through it on the final day.” It is important to note that, while there was no dollar goal, a new giving record was set for this type of campaign.
Several challenges drove the participation, including two that were not preplanned by the Agencies. “We built some challenges into the campaign,” explained Cook, “like the two NCAA teams which had the most donors and the academic department receiving the most gifts would each receive an extra $1,000.
“Another challenge was set up by Bill Wieners ’85 between the Class of 1985 and the VMI New England Chapter. If the Class of 1985 had more donors, Bill would donate $1,839.11 to the VMI Class of 1985 Memorial Scholarship. If the New England chapter had more donors, Bill would donate $1,839.11 to the Col. Donald Jamison ’57 Scholarship fund.” (Editor’s Note: For the record, the Class of 1985 was victorious.)
Two anonymous alumni—one from the Class of 1965 and one from the Class of 1996— came forward with their own challenges. The older alumnus offered to donate $100,000 if the campaign met its donor goal. The younger alumnus came in during the campaign with a challenge meant to spur young alumni to show their support of VMI. If the Classes of 2012 to 2021 increased their donor count to 50 between 9:30 a.m. April 6 and 9:30 a.m. April 7, he stated he would donate $15,000 in support of VMI. “That challenge did the trick because, in those 24 hours, 98 young alumni made a gift,” Cook said.
Every campaign provides its own lessons or reveals new trends in fundraising. When asked what the VMI Alumni Agencies learned from this one, Cook replied, “Texting is becoming increasingly important, which means that cellphones and other portable devices are the means of choice for more people, regardless of age, to communicate with us as well as make donations.”
Something else long known was confirmed by the campaign: “We have a lot of great, loyal supporters, and their enthusiasm is amazing,” said Cook. “Their strong participation in this campaign reflects the confidence of the VMI family in the Institute’s enduring mission. It was a monumental effort by alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends, and we could not be more thrilled with the results.”
Scott Belliveau '83 Communications Officer - Executive Projects
The communications officer supports the strategy for all communications, including web content, public relations messages and collateral pieces in order to articulate and promote the mission of the VMI Alumni Agencies and promote philanthropy among varied constituencies.