Share the Wonderful exceeds goal, shows power of many

January 29th 2013
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The wonderful news is: People banded together to help ensure a stronger future for the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

From around the world, and from just next door, friends of the university embraced a new multimedia annual giving campaign called Share the Wonderful — and enabled it to exceed its $10 million goal. The campaign generated $10.2 million in priority annual funds for the Madison campus.

Katrina McCann, who received an undergraduate degree and then went on to obtain a law degree in 2010, says one reason she gave to the campaign was that she was able to get a world-class, affordable education.

Today, she is an employee benefits and executive compensation attorney at a large international law firm in New York City.

"The education I received at the University of Wisconsin is invaluable to me," McCann says. "As I progress in my career, I believe it is important to give back to the university that has given me so much. I especially wanted to make use of my employer's donation matching policy, to double the impact of my giving, and to demonstrate to my employer the high regard I have for the University of Wisconsin."

Interim Chancellor David Ward says Share the Wonderful will help to build the university's future.

"We were incredibly gratified by the generosity of people who recognize the importance of this place and the work we do," says Ward. "The power of many was apparent, and that ongoing support helps sustain our mission. To those who helped: Thank you."

Another donor, Jacklyn John, received a bachelor's degree in political science and Afro-American studies in 2009 and hopes her gift will keep a university education accessible.

"The University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the scholarships I received to attend, changed my life in more ways than one. Contributing to the annual campaign is the least I can do," says John, who is a student services coordinator on campus.

Annual giving is increasingly important as the university looks to more philanthropy to support its core budget. Gifts to the annual fund allow the chancellor and deans the resources they need to improve students' educational experience, and recruit and retain top faculty to teach and inspire them.

Mike Knetter, president and chief executive officer of the University of Wisconsin Foundation, says Badger spirit and a shared vision for the university's future enabled the campaign to be successful.

"The devotion to this place runs deep," says Knetter. "Annual giving is a powerful way to build on our excellence and ensure that the university can thrive year-in and year-out. Our friends around the world know what the university means to them and they see the value of improving it for generations to come."

Share the Wonderful — a collaboration involving the foundation, the Wisconsin Alumni Association and UW–Madison — was designed to encourage annual giving and unrestricted gifts and to let more alumni know their support is needed and appreciated. That's critical at a time when the university's resources are tight, Knetter says.

"That's why it is inspiring and humbling to see people stepping up, making that annual investment and working as a team," Knetter says. "We are so thankful that alumni and friends of the university have pulled together on this campaign."

The campaign included leadership involvement from board members and others, direct mail, student phone calls, social media and an entertaining microsite.

Story by Dennis Chaptman, University Communications