For $10,000 a Sarasota community member can purchase access to Clambake, the right to a generous donation tax write-off, preferred seating, personal advertisement and access to a meeting with O’Shea and a luncheon. A $150 ticket will do as well for those with less change in their pockets.
Coming up on Nov. 5, Clambake is a lavish dinner party that is part of a number of annual fundraisers that the New College Foundation holds in order to raise money to fund the school. Catered by local high-end Sarasota restaurant ‘Michael’s on East’, the seafood-themed night is a well-attended, popular way to draw in the philanthropist crowd.
Third-year Saif Iqbal, an intern at the Foundation and a Student Fundraising Manager, is part of a team of students supporting the Foundation’s efforts to raise money. And money is raised indeed; the Foundation has in past years raised over $5 million dollars through these fundraisers in order to enhance the school.
The funds raised by the Foundation go to a myriad of New College features, including enhancements on the library (the amount raised by one year’s Pique-Nique event fully funded the development of the Co-Lab), funding the Student Research and Travel Grants (SRTG), New College scholarships, and professorships. They also pay for “a lot of the other stuff that’s not as sexy,” Iqbal said, “like paying for electricity, paying for general stuff that’s absolutely necessary to run a college but doesn’t sound as good.”
The Sarasota community has supplemented much of the Foundation’s donations. Events like Pique-Nique sur la Baie and Clambake attract many of the wealthier members of the community, who donate even more money throughout the nights of the events along with the tickets they purchased.
With a relative small alumnae population of about 5,000 people, alumnae donations don’t bring in the most lucrative figures compared to local philanthropists, but even their smallest donations still help the school: the higher the percentage of alumni who’ve donated, the better it looks for the school and the more people unaffiliated with the college will be willing to donate. During the Commencement ceremonies at the end of the year, immediately following the graduation, new alums are asked to donate to the school the amount of quarters or dollars, small change that may not contribute much to the funds of the Foundation but which bolster alum donation percentages.
Most of these donations will come in through Phone-a-thon, a weekly session of marathon phone calls held a few weeks out of the year in which student volunteers such as Iqbal dial up alums and parents to ask for donations. Alums are asked to donate a certain amount based on certain indicators such as marital status, income, and age but the most significant factor in estimating how much an alum would donate is based on how much they have given in the past. Older alums with established careers may be asked to donate anything from a hundred to a few thousand based on their success. More recent graduates will be asked to donate amounts in the $2 to $10 range. Throughout the year the multiple phone-a-thons held attempt to reach out to the entire database of alumnae available to the Foundation.
Along with gathering donations, the phone calls allow students to speak to alumnae on a personal level, reminding graduates of what their years were like at the school. “The magical thing about New College,” Iqbal said, “[is that] you could literally call any alum, and have a 20 minute conversation with them about the school.”