How sweet is that.

Board of Trustee President Dean T. Criares ‘85, left, Lawrence Morris ’94 and his wife, Devyani Gupta Morris, ’96 and Trustee Bill Freeman ‘74 are some of the donors who are giving $99,000.
Board of Trustees Chair Dean T. Criares ‘85, top, Trustee Lawrence Morris ’94 and his wife, Devyani Gupta Morris ’96 and Trustee Bill Freeman ‘74 are some of the college alumni who, together, have given an extra $99,000.

There were handwritten letters, social media appeals, pub nights and phone calls. Class agents called on their former classmates. Challenges were issued on Twitter.

On June 30, giving by Drew’s college alumni reached 27 percent, capping a wildly successful fundraising challenge for the second year in a row—and triggering a gift of an additional $99,000 to the annual fund by a group of committed alumni. A week later, when postmarked donations were counted, the level of contributions reached 28 percent.

Contributions came from all over the United States and from alumni overseas. There were gifts from recent graduates and from graduates as far back as 1937. “This is an extraordinary success for Drew,” says John Holden ’98, director of annual giving. “This is also a win for all alumni and the value of their degrees.”

Based on 99 Nights, Drew’s legendary countdown to graduation in the college, the primary goal of the 99 Days Challenge is to increase the number of alumni who give to the university. Still, it also helped boost total giving to One And All: The Campaign for Drew to $60 million of its $80 million goal.

Though some gifts were tagged for specific clubs, sports teams and academic departments, much of the money was unrestricted and given to the annual fund, giving it a record year by boosting donations to a record $1.2 million.

Helping with the challenge was Forrest Shue ’87, who contacted his old classmates, and used the opportunity to catch up through humorous emails, updating alums on the latest happenings at Drew.

“It was a fun, sentimental sort of thing,” says Shue, adding that he got an enthusiastic response from his former classmates. “It was great to reconnect with people.”

Erin Hennessy ’95, harnessed the power of Facebook with posts about the challenge and yearbook photos to successfully appeal to classmates and their friends. She heard from lots of alumni, including her former residence director, who donated and a more recent grad—her younger sister—who also pledged.

“We all got into it,” says Hennessy. “People were having a great deal of fun.”

Alumni participation at Drew has surged over the last three years, from 21 percent in 2012 to 25 percent in 2013 and 28 percent this year. A higher alumni participation rate boosts the university’s rankings, reputation and national standings and helps Drew to compete for major national grants more successfully.

Says Holden, “It’s great for Drew and a testament to how alums feel about their alma mater.”—Elizabeth Moore