Le Moyne College adjusts fundraising priorities to provide emergency support to students during pandemic.
Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., boasts a large number of first-generation college students, with one in three students receiving a Pell grant. When COVID-19 began impacting students’ basic necessities, such as food and rent, the college leveraged technology to provide swift support through its capital campaign.
Moving into the final stretch of a seven-year capital campaign, Le Moyne College faced an unforeseen hurdle: a global pandemic that compromised access to basic necessities for some of its students.
“We’ve spent a lot of time helping students do things like pay for groceries or pay the electric bill,” said Sam McCrimmon, associate vice president of advancement. “It’s situations where the student had a part-time job helping get through the semester. The student lost that job and then maxed out a credit card paying for groceries. It’s the same on almost every campus in America.”
COVID-19 physically shifted McCrimmon and his colleagues away from their Syracuse, New York, campus and also forced their team to re-examine priorities in the final year of a $100 million capital campaign—the largest in the school’s history. Intended to support seven distinct funding priorities, the campaign now focuses almost exclusively on unrestricted gifts to tackle the most urgent needs.
“The old model where I would jump on a plane to California and go talk to prospects about priorities established six years ago—none of that model works,” McCrimmon said. “Even if I could get to California, I don’t know if the donor would want to see me, and they’d probably wonder why I was talking about the Campaign when we don’t have students on campus. So that’s where we start to focus on the needs of the students.”