From March 28 to April 2, over 1,000 donors participated in raising over $600,000 for the University of Dallas’ 2022 Cor Challenge. The Challenge is half of a two-prong, three-year solution to the Forging the Future initiative, a fundraising goal aimed towards receiving gifts from 25% of alumni by the year 2025. This year’s Cor Challenge was focused specifically on student scholarship support. All numbers quoted are as of April 10, with some gifts still being processed.
The Cor Challenge was initiated by UD’s National Alumni Board in 2012. Originally dubbed “Moneybomb,” the inaugural event used a grass roots, peer-to-peer fundraising model that saw alumni donors encourage and challenge other alumni to financially support the university. That year, just over $74,000 from 564 donors was raised. The first “Cor Challenge” was held the following year in 2013, and since then has become an annual event that continues to focus on alumni giving.
Recent years have showcased the growth in goal and scope of the event, with total amounts raised coming to $186,000 in 2019, $200,000 in 2020 and $286,000 in 2021. This year, the university set its sights high with an initial goal of $300,000.
“This Cor Challenge was unique because it is the first time we have had a lot of engagement from current students, and Clash of the Classes, as the concept is brand new this year,” said Clare Venegas, vice president of marketing and communications.
“Definitely a lot … of alumni enthusiasm about re-engaging with students and really making a difference with campus improvement ideas they had. We have a lot of really great feedback from alumni wanting to stay on.”
Austin Westervelt-Lutz, assistant vice president for development, assisted in coordinating the event and calculating the proceeds. He explained what inspired the goal was significantly higher than last year.
“Ideally, the goal should increase each year in order to motivate as many alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends to participate and give according to their means,” he said. “The costs of running a University increase each year, and we are fortunate now to have a significant community of alumni and supporters willing to invest in making UD the premier Catholic liberal arts university in the country.”
Various motivational methods were utilized to inspire competitive giving amongst alumni, including Leaderboards that calculate giving by class, a Donation map by state and a Fromer vs. Spromer giving competition.
Westervelt-Lutz advocated for the style of competitive, grass-roots giving that forms the foundation of the Cor Challenge.
“The benefits of this philanthropic revenue reverberate beyond the stated purpose, as externally-raised revenue allows more flexibility within the University budget to pay for things like faculty salaries and campus upkeep and improvements,” he said.
“Further, we have a number of generous UD alumni who wish to make a transformational impact for our students and our University by making significant investments during the Cor Challenge to both reflect their deep and abiding love of UD and incentivize others to do the same.”
The methods and motivations surely worked, for by the end of the Challenge, the event had smashed its goal by 210%. Notable contributions include: several members of the class of 1985, including Mike Wehrle and Jennifer Byrne, who made gifts of $100,000 each, Fanny (’88) and Phil (’90) Sheumaker, who gave a $50,000 matching gift that doubled the impact of “early bird” donors at the start of this year’s Cor Challenge, and UD Trustee Barry Clark and his wife Kathy, who made a $50,000 matching gift to challenge the class of 2016 in honor and in memory of their son Zach. The class of 2016 rose to the task and met their goal.
Top of the Leaderboards include the class of 1985, who raised the most out of any class ($331,728.22) and who had the greatest class participation at 36%, as well as the class of 2012, who had the most total donors, 80.
Westervelt-Lutz praised the capacity and will-to-give of all the donors, especially alumni, and specifically mentioned the incredible work ethic and leadership of both the Advancement Office and Office of the President that made the Challenge such a great success.
“None of the exceptional philanthropic results we have achieved to date this year on behalf of UD would be possible without the leadership of our Vice President for Advancement, Kris Muñoz Vetter. Our alumni and friends are energized about President Sanford’s vision and leadership, and excited about what they see on the horizon for UD. Most importantly, our fundraising success this year reflects the devotion the UD community has for its students and faculty.”