Goal Setter

20 November 2018

The Alumni Annual Fund’s new board chair is invigorated, not intimidated, by the fund’s ambitious campaign goals.

Karen Schilling stands on a stairway surrounded by four Carleton staff members
Karen Schilling ’78 (center) gets a show of support from annual fund staff members: (L-R) Breanne Bischoff, Kim Barnes, Nick Traxler, Mario Hess-Winburn

Karen Schilling ’78 isn’t afraid of a challenge. After getting her feet wet by serving as a member of the Alumni Annual Fund Board of Directors, Schilling recently jumped into the deep end by becoming the new board chair.

Carleton alumni have set high standards and goals for the volunteer-driven fund, so the board chair’s role would be a challenging one at any time. But this isn’t just any time—it’s the beginning of a historic fundraising campaign that includes a likewise historic goal for annual giving: to exceed $10 million annually by 2021.

That $10 million goal includes gifts to the Parents and Friends Funds and matching contributions as well as gifts to the Alumni Annual Fund, but Schilling knows alumni will be called upon to raise the lion’s share. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, total annual giving set a new record of $9.05 million, with 91 percent—$8.23 million—coming from alumni.

Far from daunted by a goal that will leave last year’s impressive record in the dust, Schilling welcomes it. “I’m very glad we’re part of the campaign,” she says. “That inclusion is a wonderful recognition of the annual fund and its importance.”

The Alumni Annual Fund wouldn’t rest on its laurels even if there weren’t a campaign in progress, Schilling notes. “Our overall plan is to grow the fund 3 percent a year,” she says. “This isn’t a one-time thing—it has to be sustainable.”

The annual fund is a testimony to the devotion of the entire Carleton community, Schilling says, which includes parents and faculty and staff members as well as alumni. “As one individual annual donor, I may feel insignificant, but there’s power in our numbers. All of us together, every year, make a tremendous difference for the place we love.”