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#Bona community steps up for students; posts best year ever for unrestricted annual giving

Jun 16, 2020 |

By Susan Anderson

How can we help?

This was the question asked and answered by St. Bonaventure University’s alumni and friends as they pooled their resources in support of today’s students, raising more than $2.78 million for The Bonaventure Fund and posting the best year ever in unrestricted annual giving at the university.

Even with lives upended by the COVID-19 crisis, many in the Bona community made second gifts or increased their overall level of giving.

In my three years as president of St. Bonaventure, I have witnessed countless ways our community members reach out to each other,” said Dr. Dennis R. DePerro, university president. “I am so gratified that the phrase ‘How can I help?’ is something I hear almost daily within our Bonaventure family.”

John V. O’Connor Jr., a member of the Class of 1979 and managing partner of O’Connor and O’Connor CPAs in Albany, New York, is one of hundreds of alumni who dug deeper and augmented his donation.

“We were fortunate that our business was deemed ‘essential’ during the shelter-in-place phase,” O’Connor said. “I felt I could do a little more because of that.”

When the shutdowns first began, O’Connor said his thoughts turned to the St. Bonaventure community. 

 “I was concerned that the pandemic would affect the students and their parents as they struggle with the tuition cost on top of job losses. I wanted to help in a small way to ease some of that burden for them,” O’Connor said.

He joined more than 5,000 donors who contributed gifts between June 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020.

Volunteers for the Reunion Class Challenge also stepped up, rallying support from classmates even though the 2020 Reunion Weekend was rescheduled for next year due to the pandemic. The challenge raised more than $570,000 for the fund.

“We are extremely grateful to our alumni and friends for their support of Bona’s under these extremely difficult circumstances,” said Bob Van Wicklin, vice president for University Advancement. “We are also proud of our team that rose to this unique challenge and persevered to get the word out to our supporters, letting them know about our needs and how to help. The Bona Family has always risen to the occasion, and this is just another example of that devotion to our university’s vision and mission.”

Since 1888, The Bonaventure Fund has served as the primary vehicle through which alumni support the university. A top priority for the fund this year has been scholarship assistance, which is especially needed now given the economic fallout from the pandemic, Van Wicklin noted.

During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, St. Bonaventure also:

  • Raised more than $14.3 million overall for the university;
  • Enjoyed the support of more than 1,500 Devereux and Young Grotto Society members who invested more than $14 million in the university; and
  • Celebrated the fifth-annual #BonaGiving Day, a 24-hour fundraising event that inspired more than 790 donations worth $280,953.90.