SLUH Day raises over $570,000 with help from students, faculty, and alumni

Last week brought #SLUHday back to social media feeds when the student body was once again encouraged to promote the fundraiser on all social media platforms. After a week of alumni donations, St. Louis U. High Day has raised a whopping $576,418 with 996 donors.

Art: Alex Nance.

SLUH Day was established in 2018 by the City of St. Louis to celebrate the school’s 200th birthday and has become an annual fundraiser for the financial aid program. This year, SLUH did not have a goal for the number of dollars to raise but rather for the number of individual donations. An ambitious goal of 800 alumni donors was set for this year’s SLUH Day donations. 

Two men from the Class of 1970 each agreed to give $75,000 to the event if the school met its 800-donor goal.

“That was a huge motivator,” said Director of Alumni and Parent Giving John Penilla. “That was really the rallying cry for a lot of our alums.”

Penilla played an integral role in facilitating the events of SLUH Day. The main outreach strategy for the event was contacting alumni volunteers to reach out to their former classmates.

“Within the last couple of weeks I’ve been sending them information to say that SLUH Day is coming up,” said Penilla. “Make sure you’re spreading the word and it can be as simple as a mass email to your class or it can be as personal as going down the list and calling or texting everybody on it.”

Hundreds of alumni donations helped propel the donation sum to such an impressive level. The initial goal of having 800 donors proved to be a strong motivator for alumni to contribute in any way they could; over the 50 hours of the event, a steady flow of donations both large and small contributed to this achievement.

“We hear a lot, especially with our younger alums, you know, ‘I can’t make a gift that’s going to be meaningful to SLUH,’” said Penilla. “Certainly all of the gifts that we get are (meaningful), but when you can make a ten dollar gift and you know it’s going to help us get to $150,000, that was a big motivator for people to make their gift this year.”

Senior Ismael Karim with his freshman homeroom. Photo: Ismael Karim.

The website featured many figures to help motivate alumni to donate, including a gift tracker, class leaderboard, and map with the number of donations per state.

“You know how SLUH students are: SLUH alumni are the same,” said Penilla. “We’re competitive and we’d like to see the number get up there.”

SLUH day was not only to raise money for the school. By reaching hundreds of alumni, it was a way of showing off the many achievements of the community.

“Part of it is spreading the word about what we’re doing here,” said Penilla. “It’s celebrating our history. It’s a way for us to ask our alumni to help support today’s Jr. Bills. There’s marketing and messaging to it; we want everybody in the community to see the good things we’re doing.”

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