A Look into Groton’s Alumni Office

The Alumni and Development Office significantly impacts life on and off the Circle––helping to provide internships, raising money for the School and more. Recently, the office has implemented a series of changes, the biggest of which is Give2Groton (G2G), and new opportunities for alumni engagement.

The Alumni Office’s job is two-fold: to handle alumni engagement and develop parent relations. The office keeps alumni and parents connected, develops career networks for alumni, and organizes Reunion Weekend and alumni games. It also solicits gifts for the Groton Fund, which the School uses to help fund the operating budget each year, as well as gifts for the School’s endowment through campaigns like Groton Affordability and Inclusion (GRAIN). 

G2G, a giving day that contributes to the Groton Fund, was started in 2017. In 2017, the campaign raised $694,708 from 940 donors, easily surpassing the 380 donor goal; this year, the campaign raised $1,421,583 from 1,272 donors, again exceeding the 530 donor goal and making up 11% of the school’s operating budget and 34.2% of the Groton Fund for the fiscal year of 2018-2019.

While fundraising drives are not new to the school, Give2Groton is unique as Headmaster Temba Maqubela and the alumni office moved it to coincide with the school’s birthday, accelerating the alumni office’s programming. Director of Alumni Engagement Allison MacBride explained by offering an example: Kimberly Gerighty, Director of Parent Programs didn’t ask parents for gifts until after Parents Weekend, but G2G pushed fundraising participation rates earlier in the year. G2G even dramatically increased participation: before it began two years ago, overall parent and alumni participation before November 1st were 18% and 5%, respectively. This year, overall parent participation was 80% and alumni participation was 23% by the same date. 

G2G also changed how the School celebrated its birthday. Ms. MacBride said in an email, G2G’s purpose “is definitely to engage alumni in a celebratory day of giving and bring the [birthday] celebration to everyone, near or far.” This year, in addition to moving the dinner into the gym, having students sign thank-you cards to donors, and inviting a graduate to give a Chapel talk, Ms. MacBride also showed a campaign video during conference in which alumni and faculty explained why they gave to Groton and shared more of the G2G aspect of the School’s birthday with the student body. Ms. MacBride noted, “We’ve focused a lot of our energy on it early in the year.… The volunteers ALL really engaged with it… It is an all hands on deck day.”

Alongside Ms. MacBride, Mr. Maqubela is a huge advocate of G2G and the work the alumni office does. Mr. Maqubela said that he feels the work done by the alumni office is important because they keep alumni and parents emotionally connected to the School: “Give2Groton highlights our common bond as humans: to do good in a playful and modest way.” He added that G2G is also uniquely special to him because Ms. MacBride, whom he credits with the idea, was one of his chemistry students at Phillips Academy Andover.

Within G2G, Mr. Maqubela and his wife, English teacher Vuyelwa Maqubela, have also begun issuing fundraising challenges to young alumni; for example, the Maqubelas personally matched donations made by the forms of 2014 to 2018. As he continues to reach out to recent graduates, Mr. Maqubela hopes that these challenges motivate graduates to think about current students. 

Overall, Ms. MacBride said, “We have a great alumni and parent participation rate, good turnout at events.”

Math teacher Michael Gnozzio ‘03 echoed Ms. MacBride’s sentiments on the alumni community as a whole, writing, “I think the alumni community is very robust and welcoming… for the most part, I think that the bonds that we form on the Circle stay with us for a lifetime, even when we’re not really aware that those bonds are being formed.”