Names engraved on buildings provide a guide for knowing where to go.
Behind the names, however, lies a second meaning—who donated the money to put it there.
The buildings around campus are given a name by either someone who donated money to have their name on the building, or by someone who wanted to name a building after someone else who made an impact on them while at Franklin.
But to Gail Lowry, vice president of development and alumni engagement, it’s much more than ensuring they get a name on a building.
By placing these names on buildings, Lowry said other donors can see what it does for the students who walk into those buildings each day.
“The recognition that we like to show donors when we put their name on a building helps us to tell other alumni and friends about the transformational impact they can have on a student as they work in a class,” Lowry said.
Although there are many avenues to donate to the college—which they call Ways to Give—the majority of the donations are given through checks.
“It is odd that most use the old fashioned, hard copy check,” said Kenna Wood, stewardship director, who is in charge of institutional-wide donor relations.
Wood and Lowry agreed that there’s a trend in how alumni give the money.
Younger people tend to give online. Older generations prefer to send checks, and sometimes even their credit card number to have it processed like in the old days.
In addition to the Ways to Give program, Wood and Lowry also manage Give to Griz, an annual one-day giving challenge that started four years ago.
Current students may recognize this day as the time when they dump their Griz Lee bear banks filled with spare change to donate to the college at the end of the year.
“I think that’s been a great way to get more younger alumni involved,” Lowry said.
With almost 9,000 alumni contact information records, the college’s alumni council routinely sends out letters and emails to alumni throughout the year to stay in touch with them, inviting them to different networking events and asking for donations.
“We really try to be proactive in our outreach to alumni to share with them what’s going on at the college and keep them engaged in the life of the college,” Lowry said.
One of the council’s biggest goals when reaching out to alumni is to understand what alumni are most interested in, which helps them get an idea of what they could be contributing to.
“It’s really up to us to listen to how alumni and friends want to impact the institution and build upon that,” Lowry said.
Lowry said that one thing to take away from donating in general is not to focus on the amount donated, but the reason to donate.
“Think of it not as donors simply giving money away, but donors who want to show a lasting impact,” she said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”