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Innovative Endowment Inspires CC Class

Sally Zimmermann ’17 and Rayna Nolen ’17 co-directed the senior gift program for the Class of 2017. In their last semester at CC, the duo promoted engagement through events that incentivized giving and fostered a sense of togetherness. They encouraged their classmates to give back to the school that had given them so much.

“Our classmates were very receptive and for the most part were happy to give,” Nolen says.

Later in 2017, an anonymous CC donor created an endowment totaling $566,000 in the name of the Class of 2017 to inspire its members to continue to give back to their alma mater after having been impressed by students’ participation in their senior gift program. Those who gave could vote on how the endowment’s annual distribution was allocated and became trustees of the endowment charged with making a difference for the college. The endowment continues in perpetuity.

The senior gift program, spurred on with the Class of 2017 endowment, continued to engage the class long past Commencement. Emails, text messages, and phone calls kept the class engaged and informed of progress. A Venmo account to allow for gifts made via mobile phone served to ease communication and streamline giving.

When the college’s fiscal year ended on June 30, the entire class learned the outcome of their efforts. Altogether, 162 graduates made $54,588 in commitments.

They voted to split this year’s allocations for the Class of 2017 endowment as follows:

40% Financial Aid
37% The Annual Fund (Fund for CC)
9% Academic Departments
7% The Butler Center
7% The EcoFund

“Everyone has that special place that they really care about and being able to choose where you wanted to give made it a very personal and meaningful experience. Everyone was able to give to where they felt the most connection,” says Nolen, who noted she wasn’t surprised that her class directed most of their giving toward financial aid, which is a top funding priority of Building on Originality: The Campaign for
Colorado College.

“I think the Class of 2017 wants everyone to be able to enjoy CC the way that we did regardless of their financial background,” she says.

Compared to recent graduating classes, the Class of 2017 outperformed its peers in terms of number of donors, amount given, and average gift size. Nolen says the experience taught her the importance of giving back.

“A little bit can go a long way. The majority of students gave $10, and I got to watch that grow into thousands, which was very cool,” she says.