All in For Oberlin Secures Donations Over $1.1M, Anticipates Further Changes to Outreach Strategy


Students working in the Digital Engagement Center.

Tuesday, March 28 was Oberlin’s annual day of donations: All In For Oberlin. In one day, 1,996 donors gifted a total of $1,135,929.

The Oberlin Office of Advancement has held this annual day-long fundraiser since 2017. Students, staff, faculty, and alumni were encouraged to participate. This year’s goal was to receive gifts from 1,000 donors, and as of early afternoon Tuesday, this goal was surpassed.

In the past six years, not including this year, All In for Oberlin brought in approximately $5.2 million in donations. Donors gave to various causes, including scholarships, the Shirley Graham Du Bois ’34 Africana Studies Endowed Fund, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, and Athletics.

In previous years, All In For Oberlin included a variety of events — prizes were given out, pizza was available at the Dionysus Disco, and in 2018, President Carmen Twillie Ambar rode around on a golf cart. This year, fundraising efforts differed in that no in-person events were held.

The campaign was run through social media emails, and personal outreach. As a part of a new communication effort, alumni who graduated after 2013 were texted by student ambassadors from the Digital Engagement Center.

18 student ambassadors reached out to alumni and parents, writing thank-you notes, texting young alumni, raising awareness on campus, and producing videos in order to form personal connections. College fourth-year Niels Vanderloo has worked for the Digital Engagement Center since his first semester at Oberlin and noted the importance of communication between student ambassadors and alumni.

“We’re actually students, and we know what it’s like to go here,” Vanderloo said. “We can connect with alumni well and speak honestly. Our work is important because most of the money we raise goes toward financial aid.”

In a phone call with the Review, Walker Blue Miller, assistant director of annual giving, spoke about the new efforts to contact alumni via text.

“Most young alumni would overlook typical types of communication [like] phone calls [or] emails,” Miller said. “Texting will be the best way to reach them where they are at and solicit a gift. Today is about reigniting support for Oberlin College.”

Vanderloo agreed that texting has been especially impactful.

“Younger alumni don’t pick up the phone anymore,” Vanderloo said. “They aren’t expecting calls because a lot of calls are spam calls. Younger alumni definitely respond better to texting, and there is a higher response rate.”

Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving Terry Kurtz wrote about the next steps of All In for Oberlin in an email to the Review.

“In the future, some of the particulars about All In for Oberlin — such as outreach efforts, specific funds that are highlighted, matches and challenges that are generously offered — might change; however, the underlying purpose of the event won’t,” Kurtz said. “We will continue to focus on celebrating Oberlin, inspiring philanthropy, and recognizing the amazing and positive impact we can have across campus by coming together.”