More than 10,700 Bates alumni, parents, and friends contributed a record $33.7 million to the college during the fiscal year ending June 30.

As reported in college’s annual Report of Giving, the overall gift total in fiscal 2020 is the second straight record-breaking annual total. Since 2013, annual gifts to Bates have nearly tripled, from $12 million to this year’s total.

“Every year, it is inspiring to experience the philanthropic commitment displayed by the Bates community,” said Vice President for College Advancement Sarah R. Pearson ’75. “Especially now, during a time that continues to challenge us all, the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends, coupled with the outstanding work of so many Bates volunteers, has been humbling — and nothing short of astonishing. This spirit of generosity is a hallmark of the Bates community.”

Assistant Professor of Biology Carla Essenberg teaches her first-year seminar, seated on the Keigwin Amphitheatre. They were asked to circle Lake Andrews in order to make written observations.FYS 508 - Nature through Human EyesAlthough our connections to the rest of nature may be hidden from us, we remain reliant on a complex network of interactions with other species. As we shape their environments, other species influence us in turn, feeding us, protecting us, destroying, sustaining, and inspiring us. How are we to understand the living world of which we are a part? In this seminar, students explore different ways of learning about other species, with a particular emphasis on scientific methods, and communicate what they have learned through a variety of genres.
As Bates gets back to in-person learning in September, Assistant Professor of Biology Carla Essenberg (left) teaches her First Year Seminar, “Nature Through Human Eyes,” at Keigwin Amphitheater, asking her students to observe Lake Andrews area and make written observations. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

President Clayton Spencer said, “With Bates facing multiple challenges on multiple fronts, and especially this fall with our faculty and staff working diligently to meet our core obligations to Bates students, it is deeply gratifying that our alumni, parents, and friends have come together to support Bates College in record-setting fashion.”

She added, “Every day, Bates is helping students gain the skills and knowledge they need to help solve the wicked problems we are up against. I thank our donors for stepping up yet again to support our mission and fuel our work to address today’s needs while growing stronger and more vital in the years ahead.”

Highlights from the giving year:

  • $33,704,979 total dollars, a record.
  • $7,340,298 to the Bates Fund, also a record, including $885,738 to Friends of Bates Athletics.
  • $2,145,755 to the Parents Fund, an all-time high. 
  • $1 million from 4,583 donors, both all-time highs, during the college’s annual giving day, Great Day to Be a Bobcat, rescheduled from March to May.
  • $258,000 during the annual Friends of Bates Athletics Giving Challenge in May, nearly $70,000 more than last year’s inaugural challenge despite occurring after a canceled spring sports season.
Day two of a three-day move in featured loads of luggage, spirited greetings, and emotional goodbyes. For a small taste of what we saw, swipe left.Walking on Campus Avenue to her Chu Hall residence, OWL (Orientation Week Leader) Katia Ryan ’23 of Amsterdam, N.Y., swings her arms to express her excitement about returning to campus.Today’s historic student move in was the first of three. Most first-years begin to arrive Wednesday and Thursday.
Back at Bates at last: In August, Orientation week leaders Jackie Tam ’22 of Gardena, Calif., and Aaliyah Black ’22 of Auburn, N.H., greet students and families arriving in front of Wentworth Adams Hall. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Gifts in fiscal 2020 supported both short-term needs as well as long-range priorities as reflected in the ongoing Bates Campaign, which through late September has raised $245 million in gifts and pledges toward a goal of $300 million.

To date, donors to the campaign have committed over $95 million to the college endowment, including $12.9 million given this past year.  

As Part of Our Thanks…

There’s still time to experience the cornucopia of virtual Back@Bates offering today and tomorrow. Free registration gives you access to fun and informative online content, from student-life insights and faculty and alumni expertise to Dining Services recipes, alumni awards, and remarks from President Spencer.

As part of the campaign goal to grow the endowment, gifts and pledges totaling $53 million have been made to support financial aid, including $9 million during 2020. An anonymous challenge of $5 million matches gifts of $50,000 and above and helps families create named endowed financial aid funds.

These funds support the college’s policy of meeting the full financial need of all students while keeping total loan debt low, currently less than half the national average.

Women's rowing practice with Peter Steenstra and the erg machines behind Merrill Gym on Sept. 17, 2020.

Athlete in black with headband: Eliza Fischer '21 of Chicago,

Athlete with gray t-shirt and pony tail:
 and Eloise Botka '23 of Cambridge, Mass.
Adhering to college COVID-19 protocols including distancing and face covering, head rowing coach Peter Steenstra supervises an erg workout by the varsity team outside Merrill Gym. They hit the machines for an hour at 6 a.m. twice weekly. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Meanwhile, gifts to Purposeful Work helped to support expanded internship funding for graduating seniors for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s senior cohort made up 25 percent of the internship funding recipients.

Donors also responded to immediate needs arising from the emerging pandemic. As Bates transitioned to remote learning in March, alumni, parents, and friends contributed $512,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund to underwrite expenses of students, faculty, and academic programs, including need-based travel grants to students and significant upgrades in remote-learning technology.

The college’s current giving year extends through June 30, 2021.

Students gather in front of Chase Hall to take two buses that will take them on the first leg of their trips home. One is a Concord Trailways bus, regularly scheduled daily for 3:30 p.m. pickup. The other is a bus chartered by the College.
Departing campus in March due to the pandemic, students wait to board a bus outside Chase Hall. Donors gave more than $500,000 to help offset travel costs incurred by students and to support faculty and academic programs during the transition to remote learning in March. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)