How One Thank You Makes a Difference

Kathryn Graf is the director of alumni relations and Justin M. Johnston is the director of annual giving at Daemen College (@daemenalumni) in Amherst, New York.

Students say thanks for the photo shoot.

Students say thanks for the photo shoot.

As we say at Daemen, there is a world of opportunity out there. And when it comes to students connecting with alumni, there is no better way to say you care than a simple thank you.

Daemen is a close-knit campus with a devoted community of students and alumni. This spring, as the advancement office looked to engage our donor base for our annual fund, our Student Alumni Ambassadors answered the call. Our students found a way to make their voices heard and to say thank you to our donors.

Instagram post from our card writing session.

Instagram post from our card writing session.

“It is essential for student ambassador programs to instill a sense of school pride, establish connections with their alumni base and build the foundations of philanthropy at the student level,” notes Graf. “Whether it is having a heartfelt conversation with a donor or explaining to a peer the ways donations impact the average student, our ambassadors make it a priority to give back to the college in their own way. A thank you means more when it comes from the heart.”

During CASE’s Student Engagement and Philanthropy Month, Daemen’s Student Alumni Ambassadors took on a series of thank you projects that showcased their unique voices. Working alongside the director of annual giving, the students participated in a thank you phonathon, an annual fund letter campaign and a personalized thank you card project, with hand-signed cards sent to more than 1,000 donors. Each project highlighted a student perspective on gratitude, school pride and a shared love of Daemen.


Jessica “Jessee” Todd poses for her letter campaign.

Senior Jessica Todd, or Jessee as she is known in the office of institutional advancement, was selected as the author of the spring 2015 annual fund letter. A history undergraduate major at the time, Jessee graduated in May 2015, and is currently seeking her master’s of science degree in executive leadership and change. Jessee personally acknowledged the way donors played a part in her journey. “As a recipient of a Dean’s Scholarship, donors have allowed me to attend and continue my education at Daemen,” says Jessee.  “I am fortunate for the support alumni have given Daemen. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, I have had access to the support I need in order to pursue (my) dream.”

The ambassadors found the experience both rewarding and inspirational. “It was an honor to plan an activity that thanked the donors who contribute so much to a college that has given me so many incredible opportunities,” says Hannah Marvin, chief alumni ambassador. When alumni receive a thank you from the students who benefit from alumni donations, it creates a full circle for our alumni community.

The thank you card sent to Daemen College donors.

The thank you card sent to Daemen College donors.

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