The Vassar athletics fundraiser took on a new name and a new goal this year, shattering expectations once again. The campaign, previously known as “27for270,” rallied all 27 Vassar athletics teams to secure 270 donors in 27 hours.
Since the number of donors last year surpassed 270 within the first few hours of the fundraiser, this year, the goal was for there to be 2,700 donors. The “27Brew2” challenge, as this year’s version was called, grabbed the attention of family and friends of current student athletes, as well as a vast alumni network that contributed to the total number of donations, 5,960 in all.
This staggering number of gifts totaled $290,793, bringing in about $100,000 more than it did last year. When asked what was different about the campaign this year and what contributed to such a remarkable increase in donations, Director of Athletics Michelle Walsh was at a loss for words. “I’m still trying to fig- ure that out!” she admitted via email. “We were once again overwhelmed by the generosity from alumnae/i, parents, friends, family, and members of the Vassar community who supported our student-athletes.”
Team videos promoting the fundraiser, creative graphics and personal pleas flooded social media, with each team trying to spread the word about 27Brew2 to compel as many people as possible to donate.
The Athletics Department incentivized each team to lure donors, with an extra $5,000 going toward the team with the most donors, and another $5,000— generously donated by President Bradley and her husband—going to the team whose donor count improved most from last year’s challenge.
The men’s lacrosse team secured the former of the two, raking in 1,076 donations. The men’s tennis team won the latter, improving their number of donors by 650 percent. However, not only the two winning teams improved from last year. Fifteen of the 20 teams that participated increased their number of donors, with the men’s soccer team increasing their donors by 556 percent and the men’s and women’s rowing team boosting their gifts by 403.8 percent. Seven other teams brought in over $15,000.
The money garnered over the 27 hours will help contribute to various expenses that the teams incur throughout the year, such as spring break trips or replacing old and dilapidated gear.
Some notable alumni, such as Steve Hankins ’85, who is the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC) president, donated $2,700 to the Brewers Fund. Kyle Giunta ’08 donated $1,000, and so did Leigh and Randy Porges ’78. The Brewers Fund, which helps pay for various athletic department expenses, ranging from maintaining the fields to the RISE program, raised $22,093 with 155 donors contributing.
While the two $5,000 incentives were the most sought-after rewards, the fundraiser hosted several contests throughout the day that helped contribute to the amount teams were able to raise. Director of Athletics Michelle Walsh donated $500 to the team that boasted the most advocates and personal plea videos. The baseball team and the women’s basketball team split that prize.
Another contest was funded by Tim Kane, the VP of Alumnae/i Affairs and Development, to see who could get the most donors in 27 minutes. The men’s lacrosse team earned this victory and added $500 to their fundraising effort. They also saw a generous gift of $1,000 donated by Mark Gottlieb ’98.
Some of the most creative videos of the campaign came from the men’s soccer team, who raked in $17,535 with an impressive 606 donors. The active social media campaign from this Brewers squad helped contribute to their massive increase in donors, from 109 last year to 606 this year. Junior Henrik Olsson attributed this success to the massive increase in effort on behalf of all the members of the men’s soccer team and coaches this year.
Not only did the team have a successful campaign in terms of donations, but also the group enjoyed putting everything together and using the fundraiser to bond. “We tried to have fun with the 27Brew2 by making our own unique team videos and personal pleas. We enjoyed the whole experience, and it definitely brought the team closer together,” Olsson commented.
Junior Grace Goodwin-Boyd, in fundraising with the women’s lacrosse team, enjoyed the same aspect of the process that Olsson did. “My favorite part of the campaign was seeing everyone on the team work together to ensure our success,” she said. “Each person really rose to the occasion and contributed, whether with a thank you video, an idea for an incentive or simply by getting family and friends to donate.
Although the men’s soccer team fell short of winning most-improved team, working toward this goal was a huge driver, pushing them to put in a concerted effort to increase their number of donors this year. “A big portion of that was stemmed by [Head Coach Andy Jennings] and our new assistant coach Matt Guinto who both emphasized how important this was to us,” Olsson explained. “Matt worked incredibly hard on the social media side to promote the fundraiser event and to get all of the players excited about it.”
Men’s soccer was also motivated by the prospect of a potential international trip next spring, which could be partly funded by donations.
Not only does 27Brew2 benefit the athletics teams and department at Vassar, but it also shows the incredible network of alumni still invested in their former teams.
Olsson described how the number of donors directly relates to this tight-knit community of the alumni. “I think the success of our campaign shows how close and connected the Vassar Soccer alumni are. They always have been supportive of our program, and it helps our team improve every year,” Olsson commented. “The Vassar Soccer community is one of the biggest reasons we were very successful this year, and it shows that it will grow stronger in the future.”
Walsh expressed gratitude for the ability of current athletes to connect with the alumni. It was this connection, along with overwhelming support of the athletics teams and departments, that helped ensure the triumph of 27Brew2. “I think that the success of the fundraiser is indicative of the support that exists for and within our athletic community,” Walsh remarked.
The 27Brew2 campaign helped bring alumni, friends, family and student-athletes together and has provided the athletics department with room to grow and provide necessary services.