Saint Mary’s Madeleva Society: The small society responsible for over 80% of College donations
Cathy Doherty | Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Although it may account for only a small percentage of donors, Saint Mary’s Madeleva Society plays a crucial role in supporting the College, said Danielle Haydell Mason, director of annual giving and overseer of the Society.
Donors from the Madeleva Society make up only 13% of all who give to Saint Mary’s, but their donations account for 81% of the money given to the college, Mason said. This past fiscal year, over 1,200 people donated via the Madeleva Society level, raising a total of $8.7 million, she noted.
The Madeleva Society was established in 1979 and is named after the college’s third president, Sister Madeleva Wolff, C.S.C. To be a member of the Madeleva Society, donors must give $1,000 or more annually, according to the Society’s website.
Mason discussed the important relationship Saint Mary’s has with its donors.
“We value the input and their stories as donors because if you’re giving at that level at an institution, you clearly care a lot about it,” she said.
The Madeleva Society hosts a number of events for its donors throughout the year, notably the Belles Backyard tailgate.
“Usually we have about 200 [Madeleva Society members] who come back with their guests and their families,” Mason explained. “We have cornhole and different tailgate games that people can play and then we have tailgate foods like burgers and chicken.”
Mason noted Madeleva Society members are sometimes invited to campus for different occasions such as the special dinner held for Society members during Dr. Katie Conboy’s presidential inauguration in 2021.
Mason explained how inviting donors to special events can cultivate relationships.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to come back to campus, kind of be stewarded in that different way, have an opportunity to meet the new college leadership and just talk with other donors,” she said. “When those opportunities present themselves, we make sure those donors are included and that they have another level of knowledge of what’s going on at Saint Mary’s at all times.”
Along with being invited to annual events, Madeleva Society members receive free parking passes in designated lots, discounted rates for certain weekends at the Inn at Saint Mary’s and discounts at the InnJoy cafe and the college bookstore.
Also instrumental in soliciting donations is the Young Madeleva Society, a gradually increasing donation plan specifically designed for Belles who have graduated in the last ten years, Mason said.
Alumnae in the program donate in increasing intervals of $100 each year after they graduate from the college, with an alumna one year out of college giving $100 and an alumna ten years out of college giving $1,000. At this point alumnae move up from the Young Madeleva Society to the Madeleva Society.
Mason explained the program gives young alumnae the opportunity to give back to their alma mater.
“It makes it easy for [recent graduates] to still give at that level and then as they get further away from their time at Saint Mary’s, it increases,” she said. “It just makes it an easier transition.”
Members of the Young Madeleva Society also receive all the same benefits as those in the Madeleva Society.
Mason stressed the importance of alumnae giving back to the college.
“The more alumnae who make a gift to the college, it strengthens every single alumnae’s degree. It just shows how impactful the Saint Mary’s experience is,” Mason said. “As an alumna, I owe it to Saint Mary’s and I owe it to the students here now so that every student that comes through Saint Mary’s can have that same amazing experience that alumnae all had and love.”