Confirming once again its reputation for exceeding expectations, Centre College incinerated its goals—three times—during the Fund the Flame Challenge on March 18.
The one-day giving campaign challenged students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff, and friends of the College to give 500 gifts on March 18 in exchange for $100,000 from two anonymous Trustees. By 12:45 p.m.—just after lunch—the College had met that goal, prompting one of the anonymous trustees to offer an additional $50,000 for 750 gifts. The College met the second goal by 3:35 p.m., and received a third challenge for an additional $100,000 if Centre received 1,000 gifts before midnight. By a little past 9 p.m., Centre surpassed the 1,000 gift mark.
Now, a week after Fund the Flame, most of the gifts have been processed, the numbers have been tallied, and the College has stories to share. In total, on March 18, Centre received 1,499 gifts totaling $441,450. This includes the $250,000 gift from two anonymous Trustees; a $10,000 matching challenge for graduates of the last decade (GOLD) from Will Bowmer ’83; a $10,000 matching challenge for alumnae from Anita Britton ’76; and a $10,000 matching challenge from Jim Seabury ’87 for all gifts from Tennessee alumni and members of the Class of 1987.
The very first gift of the day, which arrived at 12:02 a.m., came from Karen and Thomas Fenton, both of the class of 1976. The evening closed with a gift from Jim and Dawn Neeley, who are current Centre parents.
Thirty-nine gifts came from students. Many of these gifts came from a challenge from Dr. Beau Weston, John M. and Louise Van Winkle Professor of Sociology, who offered a match for any contributions from his current students.
“The Fund the Flame Challenge was a victory for the entire Centre community, from current students, faculty and staff to alumni, parents and friends,” says Jacky Seaver, director of annual giving. “We knew the Centre family was loyal—but this truly is an example of love profound for Centre Dear.”
The use of social media was a key component of the strategy for Fund the Flame. Engagement on the Centre Alumni Facebook page rose 545.1 percent over the week prior to Fund the Flame, and 197 tweets used #FundtheFlame. A meme featuring the Flame lamenting the things it has witnessed over the years was the most popular promotional image used on Facebook.
“We had a lot of fun strategizing about how we would promote this day, from creating entertaining posts for social media to crafting giant gift tags and bows to put up to draw attention to what private gifts provide our campus,” says Seaver. “Each of us has our own Centre Experience, and a part of that Experience was provided by those who came before us. Fund the Flame challenged our constituents—who are notoriously competitive—to continue that tradition and see how much we could accomplish in just one day. As the calls, gifts, and pledges poured in, we became more convinced of what we already knew: we are a fiercely loyal group who cares deeply about the College, and we prove it by giving generously.”
To make a Centre Fund gift, visit gifts.centre.edu.
by Laura Coleman Pritchard