photo of Founders Hall

Photo: Amber Boring ’18

Annual Giving Increase Reflects Difference-Making Mindset

By: Steve Sampsell

photo of Founders Hall

Photo: Amber Boring ’18

Annual Giving Increase Reflects Difference-Making Mindset

By: Steve Sampsell


It’s 2,500 miles from Huntingdon, Pa., to Malibu, Ca. — about as far apart as anything can be in the continental U.S. — but distance does not deter Bob Cunnion ’77.

Although Bob’s visits to Juniata College are limited, he embraces and enjoys his opportunities to support it. He makes annual gifts on a regular basis and appreciates their impact.

“Everybody at some point evaluates how they got started and who or what has provided that foundation,” Bob says. “Juniata College is a great school and my education and experiences there were instrumental in my success following graduation.”

“I’m not that close in terms of distance anymore, but the school has done a great job over the years in reaching out and helping maintain that connection,” he added.

Many others also appreciate that connection — and the opportunity to make important gifts.

During the BELIEVE Campaign, annual giving increased 66%, from $1,770,016 in 2015 to $2,941,434 in 2021. The annual giving total of $15,469,258 represented 12% of the overall campaign and included more than $9 million specifically for the Juniata Scholarship Fund (JSF). Gifts received through JSF are directed to need-based scholarship support for academically qualified students. The JSF allows the College to continue its extraordinary liberal arts tradition for students.

While JSF specifically supports scholarship, the Juniata Fund supports other operating needs of the College. Individuals may also make annual gifts to the arts, athletics, academics, or any area they wish to support on campus.

Much of the success in annual giving during the campaign was the result of creative giving challenges and Giving Day activities.

For example, during a double giving challenge in 2017, Nicole Close ’92 and her husband, Chris Albrecht, provided a $50,000 matching gift challenge, offering to match all donations up to $50,000. The same spring, Brian Dietrich ’02 and his wife, Lauren, provided a $15,000 matching gift challenge, in honor of his 15th reunion, to all young alumni.

Both challenges were met and exceeded.

“The thing about annual giving is that it doesn’t need to be big. When I started out right out of school, I didn’t have a lot of money, but even something small — $20 or $50 a year — helps keep that connection,” Brian says.

“Plus, it absolutely makes a difference. It’s really not about the size of the gift. It’s about being a part of something — and that’s important. We’re not a big school, you’re not going to run into another alumnus every day like some other big schools, and this gives us something shared. Something that’s making a difference.”

Additionally, it’s a difference-making mindset shared by many alumni and friends, who were empowered with numerous choices and options for making their annual gifts. In the spring of 2021, a campus-wide Day of Giving featured opportunities to give to JSF, The Juniata Fund, Center for International Education, Alumni of Color Initiative Fund, and each of any of the 24 varsity sports teams. The effort raised $484,972 from 1,493 alumni, parents, and friends from all 50 states and six countries.

Dietrich family photo
Juniata’s global village photo
Left: Brian Dietrich ’02, wife, Lauren, and family. | Right: Annual Giving accounted for more than $15 million during the BELIEVE Campaign, including 3,702 scholarships funded through the Juniata Scholarship Fund. Photo: Jason Jones

A Responsibility to Invest in Others

By: April Feagley

“Somebody invested in me. I have a responsibility as a Juniata citizen to invest in others.”

These words are a mantra for Jodie Monger Gray ’88 and the driving force behind her support for her alma mater.

“I was the first person on both sides of my family to go to college. We did the best we could as far as financial aid. My parents really sacrificed for me to go to Juniata,” Jodie says. “It was difficult. Things were hard.”

The family’s financial stress peaked when her sister began college during Jodie’s senior year. Every avenue for financial aid and student loans had been explored. Christmas break arrived, but the holiday spirit was missing as the reality of an unfinished college career loomed ahead.

“That was a really difficult year for my family financially. They were having a very difficult time figuring out how they were going to pay for the last semester of my senior year,” says Jodie, emotion evident in her voice. “I remember my mother got a phone call from the college, telling her I had received some kind of award for outstanding women in college. It was basically enough money that I could finish.”

That saving grace marked a pivotal moment in Jodie’s life.

“That was the point in time when I decided it was going to be important for me to give back,” she says. “That was the day the idea started in my head that it was necessary to support other students.”

A $10 gift given during her first semester of graduate school started her journey to support other students just as she had been supported. Since that initial gift, Jodie has donated every year since her graduation.

“It was all I could afford at the time. It was important for me to start paying it forward,” Jodie says.

Since that time, Jodie’s giving has expanded to include annual giving and the creation of a scholarship. Her gifts came full circle when she had the opportunity to meet the first recipient of that scholarship.

“This scholarship was something that made a difference for her,” says Jodie. “It was a wonderful experience to meet her and hear her story.”

Today, she advises recent graduates to start paying it forward right away, whatever amount is possible.

“My $10 gift would now be the equivalent of $21. If it’s $21 a year for however many years it takes, that’s what you need to do,” Jodie says. “We accepted help from someone and are now going out in the world and doing amazing things. It’s part of the responsibility we have to the community that raised us.”

receipt of first gift
Photo: Courtesy of Jodie Monger Gray ’88