Development Office cultivates fundraising, relationships

Jack Magargee

“I have zero idea what that is,” said the reporter when the Development Office was mentioned at a recent student meeting.

Yes, I did just quote myself. So I decided to find out.

The Development Office is headed by Mr. Victor D’Ascenzo ‘81. He is tasked with overseeing all the activities that deal with fundraising, as well as overseeing Alumni Relations, Planned Giving, and the Malvern Fund. This involves reaching out to alumni, parents and former parents to make gifts to Malvern.

As the Director of Development, D’Ascenzo is challenged to oversee all of these areas and make sure they fit together in a cohesive and efficient way. Simply put, it comes down to “not asking the same person two or three times for a gift,” according to D’Ascenzo.

Alumni Relations is exactly what it sounds like: cultivating relationships between the alumni of Malvern and their alma mater. Whether it is getting engaged with sports, Malvern Theatre Society, or a seminar, alumni are often interested in staying involved with the school. And this is not just a one-way street. Malvern supports alumni as well by sharing opportunities in jobs and internships and developing connections.

Mr. Mike Treston ‘02, is the head of Alumni Relations. Treston reaches out to alumni and will occasionally ask for a gift. “Sporting equipment, technology, anything you guys encounter through your day is basically supported by alumni,” said Treston.

“A large part of what I do is turning someone who is interested in helping to someone who is helping,” said Treston.

Long-term donating is where Planned Giving comes in. “Anything that is a non-cash asset, so if someone has their will and names Malvern as a beneficiary, a trust, or a retirement plan,” described Ms. Mary-Helen McCulloch, Director of Planned Giving.

Planned Giving is not limited to monetary gifts. McCulloch said, “I do a lot of outreach to assess their interest in this kind of gift and also stewardship which is thanking the Malvern community for being involved, not just in gifts but in service too.” So this goes beyond the long-term financial security of Malvern. Planned Giving reaches out to members of the community and thanks them for what they have given back.

The Malvern Fund is yet another section of the Development Office. “The Malvern Fund is an annual fundraiser that makes up the difference between what our tuition dollars cover and what it costs per student to actually receive an education at this school,” said Ms. Alexandra Litvinas, Director of the Malvern Fund. The Fund fills in the blanks and an all-around helper, according to Litvinas. She noted that the Fund buys equipment and supplies, supports staff, and keeps the lights on.

Ms. Litvinas is charged with reaching out to parents and corporations to ask for annual donations. “The goal is to make a million dollars per year,” said Litvinas.

With a broader reach than Alumni Relations, the Malvern Fund reaches out to the whole Malvern Community for gifts – including parents, alumni, and corporations. If a parent wants to leave a legacy at the school, the are likely to do it in the Malvern Fund.

One of the Development Office’s major annual events is quickly approaching. BASH is yet another means of generating funds outside of tuition. BASH – which stands for Building A Scholastic Heritage – is an annual formal dinner and auction with a theme. This year’s theme is “Create.” Mrs. MQ Dwyer coordinates this major fundraising event, scheduled for April 25.

“BASH certainly brings the community together in a common goal, to raise the funds necessity to maintain and enhance Malvern Prep for the students,” said Dwyer. According to Dwyer, this is BASH’s 41st year, so it is a longstanding tradition and a key part of the Malvern community.

“The Development Office is the conduit between the outside constituency and Malvern,” summarizes D’Ascenzo. “Think of it like a funnel,” he said. “Taking from such a big source and narrowing it to fit the needs of Malvern on the smaller end.” A great task of the Development Office is to connect with alumni. This encompasses bringing them back to Malvern. In fact, there are fifteen Malvern alumni currently working on campus.

The Development Office does a lot of important work, but not in a way that is so visible to students. This is why they are so sparsely recognized. For being so not-well-known, the Development Office carries a huge share of the behind the scenes work that keeps Malvern in operation.