Worcester College has a long tradition of philanthropic support dating back to its founding in 1714, and the support of Old Members and friends is needed now, at this challenging time, more than ever.
The finances of all Oxbridge colleges have been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the extent to which they have suffered varies depending on several factors including: the specific value of annual lost conference income, the overall size of their endowment and the amount of discretionary/unrestricted funds that have been available to each college as we navigate an unprecedented situation with unique challenges.
In Worcester’s case, the financial loss of conference income in 20/21 alone was more than £2m, which was compounded by the additional loss of student rents at different points in the year as students had to return home during various lockdowns. This is a significant proportion of our unrestricted income and loss of conference income has continued ever since that time, as changing government restrictions on indoor events and weddings has made it impossible for people to make plans.
Thanks to the success of the recent Tercentenary Campaign, College had just increased the size of its endowment from a perilously low position of £15m (the second lowest in the University) to £51m. Although a huge achievement, the increased size of College’s endowment must be considered in the context of comparison to other colleges who are delivering the same goals as us and delivering a world-class education with Tutorial System of Teaching. For example, St John’s, the wealthiest Oxford college, has an endowment of £600m. Even the College with the tenth largest endowment has an endowment of close to £200m – in short, our much-improved endowment position does not yet make us financially secure.
Were it not for the incredible support of 914 Old Members and other friends of the College who donated last year, it is clear that despite significant savings made through efficiencies and the hard work of the whole College community, compulsory staff redundancies may have been necessary. We have never been more grateful for your support.
In addition, we are acutely aware of the effect of the pandemic on our current students and their families. It is hard to imagine how disruptive it has been to every aspect of the student experience, and the levels of uncertainty and anxiety that students are experiencing as a result as they try to cope and adapt to a frequently changing situation – one which has meant that their time at Worcester has been without so much that we take for granted as part of College life, and when their University years are for a finite period.
As a result, the financial challenges presented by the pandemic are coinciding at a time when College needs to provide more support than usual, whether this be in our welfare provision: mental health and wellbeing support, equipment for learning such as laptops or software, or private tutoring to make up for lost lesson and study time.
Every gift to College can and does make a difference to College and your gift can be directed to an area of your choosing. Traditionally Worcester has received incredibly generous gifts from Old Members which makes up (on average) 25% of our income. However, small regular gifts are just as important, and from a large group of people can add up to a significant amount and help us to build a culture of giving. At the moment only 6% of Old Members are making a regular donation to College. This is well below the Oxbridge average of 12% and the most successful colleges are achieving participation levels of 25%, with US Ivy League institutions achieving far in excess of this.
As custodians of this great College, we have a duty of care to secure its future. Your support can help us to do this. Making a gift today is easy – click here to donate now.
With heartfelt thanks in advance for your support.
Director of Development and Fellow
Make a gift
Making a regular gift is easy, just follow the link to our Donor Debit donation page by clicking here.
If you want to make a donation by credit or debit card, you can do this via the University of Oxford.
If you are based in the USA, you can make your donation tax-efficiently online via Americans for Oxford.
You can also complete a donation form, available to download to the right of this page and return it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if that’s easier.
Covid Student Support Fund
We launched our Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Student Support at our 2020 Giving Day to enable us to respond quickly and effectively to the unique challenges that the pandemic was presenting for our students and you responded with incredible generosity: 186 of you gave to the Fund over the course of the Giving Day raising vital funds at a challenging time.
Funds raised enabled College to help 75 students with direct grants totalling more than £45,000 this year. This was for rent and food costs to help students who were stranded by lockdown, and had to stay in College when they had not budgeted for this. The average gift is £700. This was absolutely critical for these students, whose life had become incredibly stressful already without financial hardship adding extra burden. The fund also helped international students having to quarantine when traveling to College because they were coming from a red list College with more than £2,000 granted to students in need.
Covid Unrestricted Fund
The finances of all Oxbridge colleges have been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the extent to which they have suffered varies depending on several factors including: the specific value of lost annual conference income, the overall size of their endowment and the amount of discretionary/unrestricted funds that have been available to each college as we navigate an unprecedented situation with unique challenges.
At the time the pandemic arrived, Worcester was starting to build up its endowment from a perilously low position (the second lowest in the University) through the success of the recent Tercentenary Campaign and thanks to the support of many Old Members and friends, but College had not yet had the opportunity to consolidate its position and was catching up on a backlog of essential maintenance work that we must do to ensure our historic buildings and grounds are safe.
The financial loss of conference income was compounded by the additional loss of student rents at different points in the year as students had to return home during various lockdowns. This represents a significant proportion of Worcester’s unrestricted income. Loss of conference income has continued ever since that time, as changing government restrictions has made it impossible for people to make plans.
Now then, more than ever, unrestricted gifts make a real difference. Every gift to Worcester can and does make a difference to College. Small regular gifts are just as important and from a large group of people can add up to a significant amount and help us to build a culture of giving.
The Worcester Fund
The Worcester Fund supports projects and initiatives that enhance the experience of our students, academics, and staff. Every gift to the Fund makes a difference to our students today and is a valuable part of a great tradition of philanthropy at Worcester which stretches back centuries.
Unrestricted donations give the College the most flexibility to respond appropriately to the areas of greatest need however, you can direct your gift to an area that is of particular interest to you.
Areas of support you can direct your gift to within the Worcester Fund include:
- Outreach and Access;
- Student Hardship;
- Student Welfare;
- Buildings Gardens and Grounds
If you’re donating online, please forward the email confirmation you receive to email@example.com and let us know which fund this gift is to support - otherwise we will allocate it to the Worcester Fund as an unrestricted gift. If you’d like to support an area not listed, please contact the Development Office on firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Fellows' Garden Refurbishment
In 2021, College completed major essential maintenance to bring The Terrace back to a safe and legally compliant state. Throughout this project, the area of the College known as The Fellows’ Garden was used as an access passage and became badly damaged in the process. College has kept some of the refurbishment budget aside to make good the damage, but with a little bit of additional funding, we believe that we have an opportunity to really rejuvenate this area, making it much more attractive and more strategically useful than it has ever been.
Its primary purpose is as a wonderful outside space for our Fellows to enjoy and mix together as part of our vibrant academic community, but we also host Old Member events here and would like to extend this to accommodate our Honorary Fellow events. There is also the possibility of making this space available for income-generating activities such as weddings and other conferences, which would benefit the College enormously.
As custodians of this wonderful place we have a duty to invest in our historic fabric, and we are now seeking to raise £35,000 to support our efforts. Can you help by making a donation today? Click here to watch an appeal by our Head Gardener, Simon Bagnall.
Outside of the Worcester Fund, Graduate Scholarships in particular are a priority at the moment and there are several matched fund schemes available where College has partnered with the University to increase the value of your donation in this area. Please email email@example.com to find out more.