& A with Karen Boehnke ’99
Boehnke ’99 returned to Smith last September as the
college's director of annual support and volunteer engagement
in the Office of Advancement. Boehnke, who has served as
an annual fund volunteer for Smith since graduating with
a bachelor of arts degree in education, previously served
as director of the annual fund and development operations
at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering.
She recently spoke with The
her work at Smith.
Gate: Let's start with
the basics. What is the annual fund and how is it used?
The Smith Fund raises unrestricted support for the college
from alumnae, parents, faculty, staff and friends. The Smith
Fund supports varied initiatives, including financial aid,
Praxis internships, and faculty salaries.
Gate: What is the busiest
time of year for your office?
KB: We're busy
year round. July 1 we start at zero and have to work steadily
to hit our fundraising goals by June 30. The summer is spent
planning for the fall, when we kick off our annual solicitation
cycle. The end of the tax year, December 31, always proves
an incentive for donors to make gifts. During May we celebrate
the fundraising efforts of our reunion classes. And June
is a race to meet our goals by the end of the fiscal year.
July 1 we start all over again.
Gate: Describe a typical June
weekday in your office.
calls and more calls. We meet as a team at 8:45 every morning
to talk about yesterday's successes and to review our overall
progress. Everyone takes a stack of calls and we're off.
I spend a lot of time reviewing past donor lists and working
with our class managers and major gift officers to help secure
gifts from alumnae with whom they have relationships.
many volunteers do you have and what are their roles?
we have just about 700 volunteers for the Smith Fund. Our
volunteers ask their classmates for gifts and thank them
for their contributions.
Gate: What drew you to this
KB: Just out of Smith I had
no idea what I wanted to do and ended up in an
administrative role in the development office at a non-profit.
I instantly fell for the problem-solving and quick pace involved.
It's been a great joy to get to do this work for the institution
that has so greatly shaped my life.
people share the reasons they feel compelled to give to Smith?
Are there any that stand out in your mind?
KB: The reasons
are endless -- for some it is to show gratitude for the role
Smith played in an alumna's life. For others, it is a way
to ensure that Smith exists for tomorrow's students. And
for still others, it is a way to help with our rankings.
Gate: Why should I give?
KB: To demonstrate
your belief and confidence in an institution that positively
affects the world in countless ways. I really do believe
the most effective way to impart change in this world is
to educate a fierce group of women to go out and make change
happen. Smith does that.