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The New Barnard Fund Society

While the financial markets may restore some recent losses to both personal and institutional portfolios, colleges and universities will take several years or more to recover from the ongoing fiscal crisis. Barnard is no exception; the market value of the College’s endowment declined by almost 19 percent during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009. For Barnard this means a reduction of $500,000 in the amount that it can draw from its endowment to meet operating expenses—a gap that, if left unfilled, will translate into scholarships left unfunded and student services cut or scaled back.

Meanwhile The Barnard Fund, which raises unrestricted gifts from alumnae, parents, and friends to be spent wherever the College’s need is greatest, can help to make up the deficit. To this end, The Barnard Fund has developed some new programs to encourage more consistent annual giving at higher levels from a broader range of donors, says Mary Ann Owens, director of The Barnard Fund.

The College has created The Barnard Fund Society to acknowledge leadership donors of unrestricted gifts. These Barnard Fund donors will be recognized annually in an Honor Roll: All donors will be listed on a secure page of the Barnard Web site; those making a gift over $1,000 will also be acknowledged in Barnard Magazine, with additional recognition given to consistent supporters. “I started giving to Barnard as soon as I graduated,” notes Barnard Fund Society member Irma Socci Moore ’50. “It wasn’t a big amount then, but I’ve continued giving through all these years because I believe in Barnard women.” For those classes celebrating a milestone reunion year, The Barnard Fund will encourage alumnae to make a five-year pledge to ensure consistent giving.

“We want to honor those individuals who perform an amazing service to the College by making unrestricted gifts at a leadership level,” explains Bobbi Mark, vice president for development and alumnae affairs. “While restricted gifts for capital improvements and perpetual endowments are essential for the long-term health of the College, the short-term impact of unrestricted current-use gifts is also enormous. A $5,000 gift to The Barnard Fund has the same impact in a given fiscal year as the income generated from a $100,000 gift to the endowment.”

Mark encourages people to make a gift to Barnard that is meaningful to them, to give an amount that they will “notice as it comes out of their pockets or bank account,” because they believe in the significance of a Barnard education. “My Barnard education was the best investment of my life,” affirms Elisabeth Garrett ’05, “and I think that supporting the College is about giving someone else an opportunity.” With rapid advances in technology and ever escalating expenses, the cost of providing the highest quality education keeps rising, requiring Barnard to spend more to provide our students with the resources they need for a strong educational experience. Barnard must remain competitive and maintain its tradition of excellence.

Owens adds that an increase in the percentage of alumnae donors is important as well. Institutional contributors, like foundations, often want to know what percent of alumnae support a college before they will consider pledging their funds. “There are some schools where the culture of giving is more entrenched than it is here. We’re hoping that with new initiatives like The Barnard Fund Society we can create a culture in which giving back is properly promoted and honored.”

-by Wesley Yang

The Barnard Fund is seeking volunteers from each class to call a few classmates to encourage them to make a gift to the Fund. Volunteers should contact Mary Ann Owens at mowens@barnard.edu or 212.854.7806