Flash Challenges Aim to Inspire and Amplify Giving

To encourage younger and new donors, gifts will be matched by grateful alumni.


As Kenyon celebrates 200 years, a group of dedicated alumni volunteers are taking the lead to continue one of the College’s oldest traditions: giving back. 

Dating to the days when Philander Chase traveled to England to solicit funds from the names that now dot Kenyon buildings and songs, the College has always relied on philanthropic investment. But while the early days of fundraising may have been dedicated to lords, ladies and others of significant means, today’s philanthropy invites everyone.

Adam Sapp ’02, a Bicentennial Ambassador, is among those alumni giving. “How do you put a price tag on being transformed, on friendships that last a lifetime, or on an education that gives you the tools you need to pivot a few times over your career? I honestly don't know, but I have a hunch that it’s more than the gift I make to Kenyon every year.”

He is just one of nearly 300 Bicentennial Ambassadors, a group identified through their volunteer service to or awards from Kenyon, who have combined to give $1.2 million to create this matching pool of funds:

Rachel Hall ’15: “I choose to give to Kenyon annually because my experience at Kenyon was a transformative one. It's very important to me that future students continue to have such an experience at Kenyon, and I'm happy that my contributions can make even a small difference.”

Tucker Bennett ’20: “Throughout my post-grad experience, Kenyon alumni have always been more than willing to pick up the phone, grab a drink and offer any type of assistance they can. I felt after relying on that network as heavily as I have, I would try and give back in what little way I could. I think the Kenyon Fund is the most tangible way to give back to the entire student body by effectively providing a blanket scholarship to all students and reducing the effective tuition rate.”

Lizzy Siphron ’17: “Kenyon was, and always will be, my home away from home. My academic experience, and the lifelong friendships that I made there, helped to shape the person that I am today. I have so many amazing memories of my time at Kenyon and will be forever grateful for my campus experience. I choose to give to the school every year to support all that makes Kenyon so special, and to ensure that the students who come to The Hill in future years have the same impactful experience that I did.”

The matches offer $200 for the Kenyon Fund for any size gift made, in honor of 200 years. Each year, these gifts of all sizes add up to help raise roughly $6 million for the College’s annual funds, which support every aspect of daily life on the Hill, including scholarships and financial aid. 

“We sometimes hear from donors, especially our younger alumni just starting out in their careers, who wonder about the impact giving, say, $20 might have,” said Shawn Dailey, AVP of alumni and parent engagement and annual giving. “The fact is a vast majority of our donors — up to and including those who have considerable resources now — started out just giving what they were able.”

Matt Winkler ’77 P’13 H’00 is among those alumni whose philanthropic journey with Kenyon began when he made his first small gift the year after he graduated. Now, he is editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg News and one of the largest donors to the Our Path Forward to the Bicentennial campaign, for which he is also a member of the leadership committee. He remains focused on the critical importance of ensuring that Kenyon encourages giving from alumni at all levels.

To that aim, among other significant giving, Winkler is offering a challenge from now until June 30 that will match the annual value of any new recurring online gifts dollar for dollar. (So a monthly gift of $25, which would amount to $300 a year, gets an additional $300 for $600 total, e.g.) This challenge is aimed at increasing alumni participation both by offering alumni a way to multiply the value of their gift and provide consistent support to the things at Kenyon they care about most. 

“I’ve been saying as long as I can remember: it doesn’t matter whether you give one dollar or a million of them, as long as you give,” Winkler has said. “It’s the practice that matters.”