December is widely regarded as the season of giving. Given the results of this year’s Alumnathon fundraising campaign, it must be a sentiment shared by many within the Mitchell Scholar Alumni community.
During two weeks in early to mid-December, 15 members of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council (MIAC) and Institute Board member Nate Kinney ’08 emailed and texted Alumni far and wide, seeking financial contributions to support the Institute’s broad range of programs and events for Scholars. More than 370 Alumni answered the call this year by giving $11,108 — a 10% increase over 2021 Alumnathon giving and nearly half of all Alumni giving in 2022.
Andy Estrada ’08, a member of MIAC and Senior Communications Officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, worked closely with MIAC’s Alumni Engagement Committee members and Institute staff to lead the organization and implementation of this year’s Alumnathon, which exceeded the budgeted dollar goal of the fundraising effort. He said reaching out to Alumni in the run-up to the holidays can make a busy time of year feel a bit more hectic, but helping to ensure programmatic funding for Scholars and connecting with Alumni make it worthwhile.
“I find motivation in annually having the opportunity to take stock of how much the Mitchell Institute has given me — and take great joy in having the chance to share my experience and perspective with fellow members of the Mitchell Institute community,” Estrada said. “It’s both motivating and a sincere joy to hear back from fellow Alums who have had a similar positive experience and are eager to show their support.”
As those in the Mitchell Institute community who are professionally involved with fundraising know, requests for contributions can be met with flat-out opposition. Not so with the Alumnathon. Estrada said MIAC “casts a lot of lines” during the Alumnathon, and even with unanswered emails and texts or polite declines, there’s a reliable element of fun in the annual fundraising campaign.
“Personally, it’s such a joy to use the Alumnathon as a reason to reach out to old classmates, friends, and connections just to check in on them during the holiday season,” he said. “It’s so wonderful to hear stories about growing families, home purchases, professional achievements, and other life updates. And, for those folks I don’t know, it’s always a joy to use the Alumnathon as an excuse to meet new members of the Mitchell Institute family.”
Sarah Short, the Institute’s Director of Development, said Alumni giving throughout the year continues to fuel the organization’s ability to offer Scholars critical wraparound supports in addition to the scholarship.
“I’m grateful for MIAC’s leadership in Alumni giving and for inspiring other Alumni to help light the way for current and future generations of Scholars,” she said. “When it comes to Alumni giving, every gift — regardless of size — matters. It’s really the collective power of giving that counts and makes a difference for Scholars.”
For Estrada, the opportunity to provide the Institute with resources and engage with the Mitchell Scholar community through the Alumnathon is as anticipated as the holidays themselves.
“Hearing from fellow members of the Mitchell Institute family always puts a smile on my face. Whether it’s an Alum I have known for years or a new acquaintance, the Mitchell connection ties me back to the community that has helped me grow so much personally and professionally over the years,” he said. “I think — and hope — that others feel the same way when they hear from my fellow MIAC members and me at this time of year.”