Classmate Outreach Resources

Calendar of Appeals and Volunteer Outreach

2018-2019 fiscal year

  • August
    Head Class Agents work with assigned MHF Officer to set goals for the year, organize list of class agents, strategize for the year, etc.
  • September
    Volunteer Conference.
  • October
    Volunteers receive Volunteer Packets via snail mail, Fall appeal is mailed to alumnae, volunteers make first contact with assigned classmates and ask for support of The Mount Holyoke Fund.
  • November
    Tax-year-end appeal mailed. Happy Founder’s Day on Nov. 8!
  • December
    Electronic tax-year-end appeals sent, volunteers contact assigned classmates with focus on those who usually give by December 31.
  • January
    Volunteers send thank-you notes for tax-year-end gifts.
  • February
    All volunteers must send in gifts by February 28 (Mary Lyon’s Birthday) for their class to be eligible for the $5,000 prize drawing in the Mary Lyon Challenge Raffle.
  • March
    Spring appeal mailed.
  • April
    Volunteers contact assigned classmates with focus on LYBUNTs (gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not yet This year). Thank An Alum Days program is hosted on campus.
  • May
    Reunion challenges and appeals to reunion classes sent.  Reunion volunteers make last contact before reunion. The start of reunion weekend is the deadline for gifts to be part of the announced class total.
    • Reunion I:   May 17-19 (1949, 1969, 1979, 1994, 1999, 2009, 2017 and FPs)
      Reunion II:  May 24-26 (1944, 1954, 1959, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1989, 2004, 2014)
  • June
    Fiscal year ends June 30.  Fiscal-year-end appeal mailed—to both reunion and non-reunion classes. Electronic fiscal-year-end appeal sent—to both reunion and non-reunion classes. Volunteers (reunion and non-reunion) make final contact with focus on LYBUNTs.
  • July
    Volunteers send thank-you notes for fiscal-year-end gifts. The Advancement office is busy reconciling year-end gifts and closing of the books. Once the books close on fiscal year 2018-2019 (around mid-to-late July), the final data will remain frozen and accessible on the Volunteer Hub throughout the summer. The Volunteer Hub will be populated with fiscal year 2019-2020 data in early September. Newly elected HCAs are welcomed by their MHFund Officer and are sent a new volunteer packet.


Making the Ask

Why every gift matters

On December 21, 1922, as students were leaving for Christmas vacation, Rockefeller Hall, built in 1897, burned down. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. provided $175,000 to build a new dormitory. Two alumnae from the class of 1920 formed an alumnae committee that aimed to collect $10 gifts from each of the 2,000 residents who had ever lived in Rockefeller, to add to the campaign for a new residence hall. The new Rockefeller, “Rocky Junior,” was built in 1923.

Giving is a Mount Holyoke tradition-Mount Holyoke has always been a privately funded institution that relies on the generosity and loyalty of alumnae to keep it strong. The College would not exist today had Mary Lyon not secured charitable gifts from New England area citizens to fund her dream.

All Mount Holyoke Fund gifts are important investments in the education of today’s students. Some alumnae feel that if they can’t afford to make a “significant” gift, the College will not value their effort.

The Mount Holyoke Fund is, in its essence, a collection of individual gifts that total a considerable amount, accumulated one gift at a time. Approximately 5,000 alumnae make gifts of $100 or less to The Mount Holyoke Fund each year, totaling roughly $275,000. Every gift really does matter. 

The Mount Holyoke Fund is critical to keeping the College operating at a superior level each and every day. Gifts to The Mount Holyoke Fund provide immediate financial resources to support the College’s top priorities—particularly including student financial aid. 

Consistent giving means that students have consistent resources for their education. Making a gift every year is the key to increasing support for The Mount Holyoke Fund over the long term. 

Gifts to The Mount Holyoke Fund benefit students today, while endowment gifts are set aside for the future. It takes about 20 endowment dollars to generate the equivalent of one Mount Holyoke Fund dollar. Tuition revenue covers only about 54 percent of the College’s $130 million+ operating budget each year. A combination of Mount Holyoke Fund gifts and income from the endowment makes up the remaining 40 percent.

Philanthropy is an essential component of every student’s Mount Holyoke experience. Without it, that experience would be far less meaningful.  

Participation affects Mount Holyoke’s national rank among liberal arts institutions. U.S. News and World Report, for example, states that: “The percentage of alumni who give to their school . . . is an indirect measure of alumni satisfaction.” Participation rates are also a deciding factor in the College’s ability to receive grant monies from foundations and corporations.

Making the call

Prepare for the call:

  • Make your gift first. Be able to say to others, “Join me in supporting students at Mount Holyoke this year.”
  • Send a note or email to your classmate before you call. 
  • Get to know your classmate by reviewing the online volunteer reports. 
  • Be knowledgeable about Mount Holyoke and The Mount Holyoke Fund. 
  • Be familiar with ways of giving. 
  • Remember that you're asking classmates to invest in today‟s students—just as alumnae invested in you when you attended Mount Holyoke.

Make the call:

  • Engage and connect.
  • Building and sustaining relationships with your classmates is crucial.  Identify why you are calling and establish a case for giving.
  • Share news of the College and The Mount Holyoke Fund and options for gift designation. 
  • Share your own reasons for supporting Mount Holyoke:
    • “I give because I received a scholarship when at Mount Holyoke.”
      “I believe in liberal arts education.”
      “I want to empower other women leaders”
      “It's my way of saying, 'Thank you.' ”
  • Thank your classmate for her past support, if applicable. 
  • Ask your classmate to “Please consider a gift of $_____” or “in the range of $_____.”
  • Remember that not all alumnae will give at their “ask” amount. Asking for a specific gift encourages your classmate to increase her contribution. 
  • If the alumna is concerned about the amount of the gift, explain that the monthly direct debiting option is a great way to have a bigger impact for MHC with less impact on your wallet.
  • Be patient and listen.
  • Encourage dialogue. 
  • Do not expect every classmate to make a gift on your first call. This may require several contacts. 
  • Explain that there are additional opportunities during challenges to have increased impact.


  • Try to find out more about your classmate's feelings about Mount Holyoke.
  • If she has concerns or questions that you are unsure how to answer, acknowledge that you will forward her concerns to a staff person.
  • Please share any feedback with the Advancement Office.
  • No matter what the outcome of the call, thank each classmate for her time and thoughtful consideration of your request.

Writing the ask note

An effective solicitation note includes three elements:

  • a personal connection
  • a statement of your own commitment
  • a request for a specific gift.

Step 1: Get Ready

  • Make your gift first.
  • Be able to say, “Join me in supporting students at Mount Holyoke this year.” 
  • Consider your own convictions. Why do you support Mount Holyoke? 
  • Consider a common thread that ties you together (major, club, dorm, etc.). You know your classmates in ways that we don’t—use this knowledge to connect in ways that we can’t! 
  • Be positive and know you’re communicating a vital message: The mission of providing the MHC experience to today’s students is impossible without the support of dedicated alumnae.

Step 2: Write the Note 

  • Did your classmate give last fiscal year? If she did, thank her for her previous support. 
  • Explain your own motivations for giving. 
  • Talk about alumnae participation.
  • Share your class participation goal.
  • Each alumna can help make a difference! 
  • Include an “ask” amount or range in your note. 
  • Encourage direct debit and/or employer matching gifts to increase the impact of a classmate’s gift.

We provide you with a supply of note cards; please call or email the office if you need more.

Sample ask notes

A sample pre-phone call note to a Cornerstone ($1,837 and up) reunion-year ask:

Dear Mary,

Thank you for your past support of the College through your gifts to The Mount Holyoke Fund. Your generosity has provided critical support, in particular, for student financial aid that helps the College continue its terrific education of talented women.

I am writing to ask you to consider joining me as a Cornerstone donor for our XXth reunion at the level of $1,837. As I think back about our days at Mount Holyoke, I remember what our tuition costs were as compared with those of today. Providing the best in a liberal arts education is expensive. Your Cornerstone gift will be put to good use, as it helps the College maintain its high standard for financial aid, teaching tools and resources, facilities maintenance, and faculty assistance. In addition, your generous gift will help us establish a strong foundation for our XXth Reunion Gift. Our class seeks to raise $_____ for The Mount Holyoke Fund this year.

I will be calling you soon to speak with you about your participation in our gift effort.

I look forward to talking with you.

A sample non-reunion note to someone who has not been a consistent donor:

Dear Mary,

I am writing to encourage you to make a contribution to The Mount Holyoke Fund. Gifts from alumnae are crucial to Mount Holyoke's yearly budget, helping to pay for such critical needs as financial aid, faculty salaries, and technology upgrades.

In order to help the College continue its tradition of excellence, would you please consider making a contribution to our class's gift to The Mount Holyoke Fund with a contribution of $_____ to be paid by June 30, 2019? Our class would very much like to have your participation in this important effort. All students—even those not receiving scholarships—benefit from unrestricted support to The Mount Holyoke Fund, just as we did when we were at Mount Holyoke.

Sample message if you know your classmate has an objection about giving:

Dear Mary,

I am writing to you today to encourage you to once again support The Mount Holyoke Fund. It is my understanding that you were disappointed about a policy decision. I would be happy to discuss this issue with you or perhaps direct you to someone at the College who will be able to more fully address this concern.

My hope is that you will join me in remembering the positive impact our Mount Holyoke education has had on our lives. While we may not always agree with every decision the College administration makes, it is important for us, as alumnae, to remember the value of our Mount Holyoke experience and the necessity of continuing to provide the excellent liberal arts education the College offers to today's students. I thank you for your thoughtful consideration of my request and hope you will consider a contribution of $______ to The Mount Holyoke Fund this year in honor of our class and future graduates.

Strategies for encouraging increased gifts

Make YOUR Case: When you speak about why Mount Holyoke matters to you and why you give, you can make a very persuasive case.

Monthly Automatic Debit Gifts:   Encourage classmates to make a gift and spread payments out over the fiscal year with monthly automatic debits on their credit card. A one-time gift of $120 may sound like a lot to someone; $10 a month over the twelve-month fiscal year may be easier to budget. Direct debit may also it easier for a consistent donor to make a Cornerstone gift. Donors can choose to make recurring monthly gifts that stop at the end of the current fiscal year, or sustaining monthly gifts that automatically renew at the end of the fiscal year.

Multi-Year Pledges: Alumnae may choose to make a pledge that extends over multiple years. Volunteers can encourage classmates to think about what she wants her total five-year reunion gift to be and make a multi-year pledge. Once an alumna commits to her multi-year pledge, you will not need to ask her for a new gift every year, but simply thank her for meeting her pledge commitment.    

Leadership Gifts: Encourage classmates close to the leadership gift level ($1,837 or more) to step up to this level and join the Cornerstone Society. Explain the benefits of belonging to the Cornerstone Society, including invitations to special events with access to Mount Holyoke’s world renowned faculty members and president.

Employer Matching Gift Programs: Encourage your classmate to find out if her employer matches gifts by contacting her human resources office. An employer matching gift can double or sometimes triple the impact of a classmate’s gift, and the classmate will receive credit for the amount of the matching gift. The Mount Holyoke Fund raises around $250,000 each year in matching gifts.  

  • Matching Gifts
    When making a gift online, donors can search to see if their company matches gifts. Gift matching data is provided by HEP Development.
  • HEP gift matching screen shot


Thanking and Stewarding Donors

Write the thank-you note

Write a thank-you note to each classmate who makes a gift or pledge. Make your thank-you notes as personal as your solicitations. It’s important to convey to your classmates that they have done something special by supporting Mount Holyoke, and that their contribution is appreciated.  Handwritten thank-you letters (as opposed to email) can have a real impact. 

Say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Show your gratitude by repeating, in a few different ways, that you and the College are thankful for the gift.  Write about how your classmate’s gift will make a difference. For example, if she designated her gift to student financial aid, tell her that her gift will immediately support the 70% of students on campus who receive some form of financial aid.  Invite more engagement with Mount Holyoke (share info about club events, suggest ways to volunteer, etc.).

Sample thank-you note

Dear Mary,

Thank you for your support of the College through your gifts to The Mount Holyoke Fund. Your generosity has provided critical support, in particular, for student financial aid that helps the College continue its terrific education of talented women.

You gift helps enable  the College to maintain its dedication to providing financial aid, teaching tools and resources, facilities maintenance, and faculty assistance for the next generation of Mount Holyoke students. In addition, your gift has helped our class succeed with its fundraising goals this year.  

Thank you again for your support of our alma mater,

Consistent giving and stewardship

Why Focus on Consistent Giving? 

Research shows that alumnae who give for three consecutive years are highly likely to become life-long supporters of their alma mater. Retaining consistent donors and encouraging loyalty is an important part of your class fundraising strategy. 

Consistent giving data gives you a sense of an alumna’s past support of the College and can help you relate to your classmates and make your communication more personal. It offers an opportunity to acknowledge and thank loyal alumnae for their history of giving and to encourage them to remain consistent. The Laurel Chain Society recognizes donors who have given to the Mount Holyoke Fund the last three years, and thanks them with special programs and recognition during reunion.

How to Use Consistent Giving Data in Communication with Alumnae

We encourage you to acknowledge an alumna’s giving history in your communication with classmates.  When working with consistent donors, please be sure to honor their support in your “Asks” and “Thank You” notes. For example:

  •  “Thank you for your consistent giving to The Mount Holyoke Fund. We hope that you continue your commitment with a gift this year.”
  •  “Thank you for your gift to The Mount Holyoke Fund and for your consistent and loyal support of the College.” 

When working with donors who have been less consistent in recent years, we encourage you to acknowledge their past giving and invite them to renew it. For example, when working with an alumna who has given 70 percent since graduation but has given inconsistently or not at all in the last four years, your message might be: “Thank you for your past support of The Mount Holyoke Fund. We hope you will consider renewing your commitment to the College with a gift this year.”