Cor Challenge brings mixed reactions from alumni near and far

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The 2018 Core Challenge reflected the mixed feelings of many alumni. Photo by Patrick Goodman.

The 2018 Cor Challenge marked one of the highest amounts donated by alumni in recent years, coming second only to the 2017 Cor Challenge.

According to Vallery Hrbacek, the Annual Giving Officer at the Office of Advancement, “Over $125,000 was raised from 452 individual donors,” with much of the money coming from “matching” donations which spurred alumni to meet various goals.

Many alumni took to social media to rally their classes to participate in the University of Dallas’ annual fundraiser and express gratitude for the school, while others used their platforms to express discontent in UD’s alumni database and the general system of fundraising.

Mike Pitstick, an alumnus who has posted in support of the Cor Challenge, summed up the abundance of complaints from other alumni by saying, “In terms of fundraising, the people leading the charge at UD have a lot of obstacles to overcome, and chief among them is building relationships with people (alumni, friends, etc.) that may not have heard from UD in years.”

Many posts reported misspellings or misinformation, like maiden names used for married women who have taken their husbands’ last names, in fundraising letters from UD.

Pitstick also noted these reports, saying “I’ve seen a lot of feedback from fellow alumni saying that the letters they receive are misaddressed or sent to the wrong address. Having good data is really important … UD is a unique institution and can only remain so with the support of its alumni.”

Although other frustrated alumni were unresponsive to requests for comments, their messages on social media shared these themes.

Sara Gentry Worth led the 1999 class fundraising effort, which featured a “one-of-a-kind koozie” reward for each donor and a matching gift of $99 for each first-time donor from the ’99 class.

“Initially I was inclined to simply donate, but that didn’t feel like enough,” Worth said. “I didn’t feel like the dollars I was able to contribute adequately aligned with my appreciation for my education and experience at UD.”

Her efforts also had the unintended benefit of helping her grow closer to her classmates  by organizing for the class of ’99, a group which did not “roll together” while at school, but was drawn together out of a shared goal in fundraising for UD.

Worth and Pitstick both shared optimism that UD’s fundraising efforts will continue to improve, and that the Cor Challenge has already significantly improved fundraising.

“The giving rates are so much better than they were before the COR (sic) Challenge, but there is still much work to be done,” Worth said.

Pitstick shared this sentiment, commenting that there has been a lot of progress in recent years and hopefully fundraising will continue to improve, especially in the area of alumni data.

Hrbacek also addressed the issue of personalized fundraising, which many alumni had taken issue with, focusing on efforts from the Office of Advancement to create a spirit of comradery. According to Hrbacek, the matching gifts for various challenges generated “a ‘rally the troops’ atmosphere,” while this year in particular featured more personal connections than in years past.

“On Monday and Tuesday evening, alumni from various classes volunteered their time to come to campus and call their classmates to ask for their support,” Hrbacek said. “There was a really convivial spirit during these call nights, and it raised the alumni participation rate.”

The Cor Challenge is still ongoing in some respects, with the classes continuing to compete for the highest amount raised up until May 31st of this year.

The class of 1988 is currently in the lead with $9,315 raised, but other classes still have a fighting chance to win the Class Trophy, in the words of Worth, “with a bit of effort and a skosh of creativity.”

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