Proceeds from Gettysburgives Challenge Drop More Than 60 Percent from 2019

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

Within an hour of the annual Gettysburgives Challenge’s end, the college had sent an email to the Gettysburg College community that declared, “We did it again!”

But the 36-hour fundraising challenge fell 62 percent short of its total donation receipts from 2019 and was behind its totals from the preceding two years as well.

For the past six years in February, college development staff have planned a two-day campaign that aims to unlock a pool of “stretch gifts” pledged by college benefactors if a certain donor threshold is met. Typically, that donor threshold is the number of Gettysburg College students, which, this year, is 2,623. The college did meet and exceed that goal, totaling 3,255 donors, but this year’s stretch pool was significantly smaller than the past three years — less than one third of even the lowest year and only 15 percent of last year’s pool — which depressed the overall proceeds.

2017 Stretch Pool: $475,000
2017 Total Proceeds: $1.08 million

2018 Stretch Pool: $1.1 million
2018 Total Proceeds: $1.81 million

2019 Stretch Pool: $1 million
2019 Total Proceeds: $2.09 million

2020 Stretch Pool: $151,500
2020 Total Proceeds: $802,836

A college spokesperson did not immediately respond to several questions about the lower totals, but she did say that there are still gifts being processed. The college published a story last night that included the $802,836 figure as a total, and the proceeds listed above come from similar night-of releases issued over the past four years.

Annual giving accounts for four percent of the college’s annual budget. In 2020, the budgeted revenue for annual giving amounted to $5.3 million, a February presentation to the faculty showed. Already, the college fell short of its revenue projections for tuition this year, missing the mark by 12 percent, which led to a round of cuts as the academic year got underway.

In two weeks, Tres Mullis will take over the Development, Alumni & Parent Relations division, which has been led on an interim basis by Betsy Diehl since the Oct. 2018 retirement of Bob Kallin. The college concluded a $160 million capital campaign in 2018, at the beginning of former President Janet Morgan Riggs’ final year at the helm, and is expected to launch a new one under the leadership of Mullis and new President Bob Iuliano in short order.

Iuliano has signaled already that strengthening non-tuition revenue is key to keeping the college on firm financial footing ahead of a forthcoming nationwide decline in the number of students going to college that is expected to begin in 2025.

Given that financial picture, the Gettysburgives Challenge’s totals struck Student Senate President Patrick McKenna ’20 as all the more concerning.

“In the context of attempting to find alternative forms of revenue I think that challenges like Gettysburgives become even more important,” McKenna said, “and it’s certainly disappointing to see the overall amount of money raised halved from previous years, especially when these dollars go directly to assisting different programs on campus.”

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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  1. Board of Trustees needs to discuss with Administration hierarchy this predictable silent rejection of the institution’s drift from its basic traditions and values. Causes have overcome balance—what are root reasons freshman class number is markedly down? $70,000 annually for constant campus commotion and barrages of socio-political engineering?
    There are happier and calmer schools, student bodies and faculties for choice.
    Without change the backlash will continue, even in an economy of increasing wealth. Ask the development team how many/how much money in pledges have been withdrawn in recent years.
    I’m out: If my college cannot proudly proclaim its Lutheran heritage—oldest one in country, and my college refuses to uncover Christ in the campus church—you don’t like that Christ, replace it, I’m out.
    If my college continues to suppress freedom of expression by not allowing the bookstore to offer the original college Bullet logo, I’m out.
    If my college continues to embrace and promote a brand of social vigilantism and
    endorsement of allegations, I’m out.
    If my college continues to spend extravagant money on bricks and mortar
    additions and maintenance—for a student body of less than 2,700– and doesn’t have the cost-benefit sense to establish a three-semester system, for larger student body, I’m out.
    If the college continues to pit gender against gender, minority against majority, political views against political views, I’m out.
    Just stop it!
    It’s past time for change, common sense move to balance.
    Harry Buzzerd’64

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  2. Refer to the WSJ articles per the treatment of Bob Garthwait in 2019. What could have been a real teaching/learning opportunity quickly devolved into a shouting match. So poorly handled by the past president.

    Just Google ‘Gettysburg WSJ Garthwait’

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  3. I concur with the previous comments. Except for the O&B, I have stopped giving to Gettysburg College until they move toward a balanced educational experience for undergraduates. From the Garthwait fiasco to Riggs’ Toxic Masculinity Drive, our College has skewed with an extraordinarily biased liberalism. I am not for a strictly moderate position. Rather, I am for an even presentation of social issues.

    Like Mr. Buzzard’s statement above, no movement by the College equals no money from me.

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