Frank Lojewski '85 and Taylor Rizzolino '15 chat at a recent Hawk2Hawk networking event.

Frank Lojewski ’85 and Taylor Rizzolino ’15 chat at a recent Hawk2Hawk networking event.

Alumni Giving and
Participation on the Rise

For Saint Joseph’s University alumni, the opportunities for becoming involved have never been greater or more varied.

A fun family outing on Hawk Hill … A career mentorship … Community service alongside SJU alumni and students who share an interest in giving back … A spiritual retreat … A reunion celebration among friends whose collective memories almost always lead to laughter.

These are among the experiences that SJU alumni have been enjoying in record numbers. While the venues may vary, Saint Joseph’s alumni have much in common. No matter how they decide to share their time, talent and treasure, they rise to the occasion.

“The work we do in advancement today is about making connections that also position the University for 30 years down the road,” said Marty Farrell ’88, M.S. ’98, Vice President, University Advancement. “These connections begin with understanding the relationships between engaged alumni and their motivation to support Saint Joseph’s over time, with getting students involved now, and with educating our volunteers.”

    Alumni Strength in Numbers

  • 7,982: Registered for the SJU Alumni Association Online Community
  • 7,365: Joined an SJU LinkedIn Group
  • 4,977: Made a financial gift
  • 3,319: Attended an event
  • 3,187: Downloaded phone apps
  • 2,335: Made gifts through Hawks on Call (an increase of 833 donors over the prior year)
  • 478: Volunteered time
  • 300: Made a major gift and/or participated on a board
  • 247: Donated for the first time as undergraduate alumni

Meeting Alumni Where They Are

Events and community service programs not only provide a window into the world of what’s happening at SJU; they also serve as a conduit for ongoing conversations about what alumni care about. In essence, Saint Joseph’s meets alumni where they are to continue offering programs and experiences of value.

Whether the alum’s gift is financial or made through sharing time or talent, it begins with the connection. And often, the decision to give financially or to increase one’s level of giving stems from another experience at the University.

“Alumni – and all donors for that matter – are often putting the pieces together as they support various causes and are looking for ways to contribute in personally meaningful ways,” said Saint Joseph’s Fund Executive Director Molly Robbins M.S. ’11. “There’s a niche for everyone, and they should be able to find it here.”

The goal is to reach, support and remain meaningful to alumni at various life stages — as they enter the job market, find their life partners and raise children and eventually search for broader ways to share professional knowledge and contribute to the world.

In recent years, this has led to Hawk2Hawk networking receptions, held at historic and entertaining venues such as the Philadelphia Contributionship, Dino Hall at the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Franklin Institute. At Hawktoberfest, families with young children have shown a marked interest as SJU has introduced the Kids Corner and the 5K Run for Autism with one-mile fun walk. Similarly, the annual Christmas Brunch has been revamped for broader appeal to include family pictures with Santa.

The Impact of Giving

When their participation directly enriches the student experience, alumni can see the impact of their giving firsthand. The New York Council’s annual “So You Want to Work in New York?” event connects students with SJU alumni and parents working as executives in some of New York’s most prestigious companies. Eventually, a graduate benefiting from advice on how to navigate such a life change may make the transition from mentee to mentor.

In the past year, SJU introduced the new alumni/student mentoring community. The group interacts on HAWK LINKS, a subgroup of the SJU Hawk Career Network on LinkedIn. The University also hosts between 16 and 20 career- or field-focused networking nights and two career fairs on the campus each year.

“We already have strong partnerships with the University’s Career Development Center and are looking ahead to more alumni engagement in this area and even in the admissions process,” said Tom Monaghan, Alumni Relations Executive Director. “We include everyone, and especially the next generation of new faces … those who may not have had a reason to get involved with their alma mater since they graduated.”

Some other recent transitions and successes in University Advancement:

  • When tied to a cause that alumni care about (such as the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support and the John Truax Scholarship for Golf) traditional events such as alumni golf outings sell out quickly. In managing the Jack Gallagher ’63 Memorial Alumni Golf Outing, the alumni committee had the idea to direct proceeds each year to a different alumni-related cause, a change that draws new people to the event each year.
  • Alumni helped clinch a victory in the off-the-court SJU-Nova Alumni Challenge. During a two-week campaign inviting them to support their alma mater by giving and by liking their respective school’s Facebook page, SJU earned more than 1,000 additional likes. The University received 626 gifts, up from 460 during the same timeframe the prior year.
  • More than 200 alumni and 400 students served at 30 sites in 20 cities as men and women with and for others this past April during Global Community Day.
  • Alumni continue to connect, reminisce and give back through their class reunions. More than 50 percent of the Class of 1963 participated in the class gift for their 50th Reunion.
  • For the 2013 Commencement Challenge, alumni joined parents, faculty, staff and friends in making 1,236 gifts in honor of the Class of 2013, exceeding the goal of one gift for each of the 1,122 graduates.
  • Through the student giving program SJUGives, the senior class reached its goal of 40 percent participation to meet the challenge posed by Men’s Basketball coach Phil Martelli, who paid off his bet by jumping into the Schuylkill River.  

From event attendance to annual giving, alumni participation is adding visible differences in the lives of today’s students and paving the way for a bright future at SJU.

By welcoming the alum in search of a cause — or maybe just interested in an entertaining way to reconnect with old friends — Saint Joseph’s University offers a sense of belonging.

And Hawk Hill still feels like home.