Here at Teachers College, we always tell potential first-time givers that every gift matters, regardless of the amount.

But even we have never seen proof like the numbers from this past year.

In fiscal year 2018 (September 1, 2017, through August 31, 2018), the number of donors to the TC Annual Fund grew by 22 percent over the prior year. That increase was largely attributable to a 93 percent increase in the number of first-time donors, with 901 people making their first-ever gift to the Annual Fund.

Among those first-time Annual Fund donors were 60 members of the Class of 2018 (students completing their degree requirements in October 2017, January 2018, or May 2018) who participated in TC’s first-ever Class Gift, contributing a total of just over $5,000. The majority made their gifts in honor or memory of a TC faculty member, family member or friend who influenced or supported them along the way.

In all, those 901 first-time donors contributed nearly $100,000. Some made leadership contributions, but the vast majority – most of whom were alumni – gave between $5 and $100.

So clearly, one reason why even a $5 or $10 gift makes a difference is that a whole bunch of those gifts add up. As TC President Tom Bailey likes to say, “That’s the magic of the Power of We.” But there are other reasons as well:

Because every dollar contributed to the TC Annual Fund goes directly in support of teaching and learning – whether it’s directed to faculty or program support or financial aid.

Because the Annual Fund also allows TC the ability to respond to needs as they arise each year, and to expand and innovate programs and improve services, without having to dip into the endowment.

Because alumni participation is used by outside organizations as one gauge of the health of an institution – from foundations and corporations considering grants to organizations that report on and evaluate colleges and universities – and so the greater the participation rate of alumni, the more likely the school is to receive grants and gifts that support major efforts and to attract and retain promising students and talented faculty.

And because, beyond what any outside organization thinks, our alumni are vital partners in everything Teachers College does, and we know – because they tell us – that participation is important to them.

“I had a scholarship, and I want to make sure other students have the same opportunities I had,” said Katherine Morgenegg (M.A. ’17), one of those first-time donors, at an event that TC held at Tavern on the Green in New York City in October.

“We wanted to give back so that others can benefit from a TC education like we did,” said recent TC graduates – and sisters – Brittany and Ashley Chambers.

And another donor, writing to tell us why she gave for the first time said, “Thank you for making it clear that every gift matters – that even if I can’t give a lot of money, my participation is important, and that even $5 or $10 is appreciated. I never looked at it that way before, and it’s good to know. I’m proud to give what I can.”

In short: your gift to the TC Annual Fund – of any amount – is a vote of confidence in TC’s mission and programs, and an important aspect of all the things it takes to make a difference in the lives and careers of current and future students, and in turn, the lives of so many others whom they will go on to touch. So all of us at TC send a huge thank you to every one of our donors – and in particular those 901 first-time donors last year. We hope you’ll all come back and support TC’s Annual Fund again this year, and every year to come. And if you haven’t made a gift to the Annual Fund this year, or last year, or for many years, or ever, we hope you’ll join us today. Your gift – your participation – your support – it all truly matters!

Richard Hutzler
The TC Annual Fund