Where Does UR Alumni Money Really Go?

Where Does UR Alumni Money Really Go?

Donations: Taking a look at the bigger picture.

“Colby! Over here!” Rhonda McIlwain hollered, signaling where she had parked her big red truck. Her enormous grin reaches the tips of her short dusty brown hair, its color resembling faded tree bark. Rhonda swiftly shifted gears from park to drive and laid on the gas, taking off toward Lamplighter Roasting Company in Richmond, Virginia, one of Rhonda’s favored brunch destinations.

Tucked away off the main road in Carytown, Richmond, Lamplighter was overflowing with people. Rhonda and her abundance of confidence marched through the front door. It became clear that not only was this coffee shop one of her favorites, but that she visits it with frequency. Flashing the gentleman at the register her contagious smile, she ordered two coffees and yogurt granola bowls spilling with fresh fruit. Fluttering out the door, she proceeded to take her seat on the back patio: an area where the flies are buzzing and bothering the shop’s patrons.

As a University of Richmond alumna, Rhonda loves building relationships with alumni, especially those who graduated with her in the class of 1979 from the university’s Robins School of Business. She is easily able to practice her love for getting to know former Spiders as a Gift Planning Officer for the university.

Rhonda has been active in the University of Richmond’s since July 2011. She works with alumni in the development office, bringing in $50,000+ per year. The funding process for a gift planning officer is a much longer process than those in annual funding, who only reach out to alumni once a year. Rhonda and her team are consistently reaching out to past Richmond students all over the country.

“Asking for money isn’t the hard part,” Rhonda said, “It’s getting people to meet with you.”

Rhonda McIlwain, Gift Planning Officer

When asked why she went into alumni giving, Rhonda couldn’t help but laugh and smile as she replied, “That’s a good question.” By this time, the pesky flies had inconvenienced her few moments outdoors, so she had made her way to the screened-in porch, still enjoying the taste of fresh air while also having the security of the screen windows to keep out the exasperating bugs.

After starting a family, Rhonda began to work at a job that was not conducive to having children, so she stopped working for 15 years until it was time to pay for college. She had worked at a computer industry once upon a time, thanks to her concentration in marketing from the Robins School of Business, but the computer industry was no longer in need of manual labor. Therefore, she decided to wander down an unfamiliar path: the path of law.

Rhonda worked at a law firm for 7-8 years as a paralegal. After these couple of years, it was time for her to attend law school. This is when she decided she should step back and reevaluate. Was law her future, or was something else in store for her?

Rhonda was visiting the University of Richmond with a fellow alumna. Strolling down memory lane, it had come to Rhonda’s attention that she always comes alive whenever she steps foot on campus: always smiling, per usual, developing a positive attitude, leaping about the campus with a cool energy. “You will always love coming back to Richmond,” Rhonda said, almost spilling her iced coffee due to her excitement of speaking about the school. Her friend had suggested looking into the career opportunities available at the university. “It was fate, they needed someone with my legal background.”

And it truly was fate. Rhonda openly expresses her love and gratitude for her role at the University of Richmond. Not only has she come face-to-face with some interesting and knowledgable alumni, but she has also learned a thing or two about where their donations to the university end up.

When alumni donate to general funding, their donations are divided up into three categories. The first of which is scholarship. Scholarship, including financial aid and academic scholarship, receives the most funding out of the three groups due to the tremendous amount of students that rely on scholarship funds. 67% of University of Richmond undergraduate students receive financial aid, which is a bigger percentage than most people assume for a private, liberal arts school. The second category that relies on alumni money is student life programming. The university’s Center for Civic Engagement, and SpiderBoard, an organization that arranges the school’s social and cultural entertainment such as homecoming, fall under this category. The third and final group receives the least amount of funding, which is technological upgrades.

Alumni can choose to not donate toward the general fund. Rather, they may decide to make a contribution toward a specific project, such as the constructing of a new building, in hopes of getting a room or hallway named after them. These donations are usually of a greater value and their donors typically do not have children or are upon their death. Including a donation in your will is an option many donors are unfamiliar with. “We, as calling officers, need to make people of all ages aware of what their options are,” Rhonda said.

However, Rhonda thinks there is one factor that is more interesting than where alumni’s money is going. “A bigger question is why do they give.”

One of the most notable givers that Rhonda worked with was an alumnus that came to the university as a transfer student. During his time at the University of Richmond, he received a scholarship and wanted to give back to the school granting him the money that allowed him to receive an excellent education. Graduating from the Robins School of Business as an accounting major, he asked his beloved Professor Hoyle what he should do. Hoyle told him to pay it forward. Thus, this donor established a scholarship for accounting majors.

Scholarships are a way for every student to feel that they have the opportunity to thrive, no matter what financial state their family is in. As Rhonda took the final bite of her yogurt granola bowl and placed her recently licked spoon on the side of her plate, her typical bright smile softened, “If you’ve been blessed, you need to bless others.”

Cover Image Credit: CreativINDIE

Popular Right Now

To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

What I Wish I Knew About Life After High School Before I Had To Live It

Life after high school isn't always what you expected it to be.


So you're about to graduate high school and you think you have it all figured out. You and your best friends are going to stay close throughout college and you're going to take those long road trips in college to see each other. Think again.

Life after high school isn't always what you want it to be. You think you'll miss high school, you'll always be close with your high school besties, and you'll have all this free time in college. That's just not entirely true. I personally do not miss high school. I don't really talk to anyone I went to high school with on a regular basis, and I'm totally OK with that. I have friends in college that I believe will be my lifelong friends whereas my friends in high school didn't make an effort to keep in contact with me after high school.

I haven't had all the free time I've dreamed of in college, because I'm busy with school and meetings. When I'm not doing homework, I'm making sure the rest of my life is in order and all my stuff for school is in line. I'm not the crazy party girl that people think I am because of where I go to school. I'd rather sit in bed and watch Netflix than go out with my friends. I'm not a 4.0 student, but I work so hard in my classes just to make sure that I'm passing. I study a week before tests and still don't always make A's. And that's OK. It's not what I expected during my college years, but it's what's happening, and most of my friends are the same way.

Anne Marie Bonadio

Just know that life in college isn't all easy, breezy, and beautiful like Covergirl. It's hard and you will struggle whether it be in school or with your friends. College isn't always complete freedom. You'll be tied down with school and life and you won't have the free time that you always imagined. You won't always be best friends with your high school friends. You won't be taking those road trips because you won't be able to afford them, and if you're like me, your parents won't let you.

College won't be exactly what you dreamed it'll be, but it'll be some of the best years of your life.

Related Content

Facebook Comments