Giving Back

Rallying the Troops

English major takes helm of alumni fundraising.

By Randall S. Barton

Photo by Talia Herman

Five years after graduation, Michael Stapleton ’10 is still just as passionate about Reed as he was as a student. But he is also ready to put his money where his mouth is.

In July, Michael becomes the chair of Alumni Fundraising for Reed (AFR), a group of alumni volunteers who solicit donations from alumni for the Annual Fund. The unrestricted money given to the Annual Fund provides immediate support for financial aid, student services, and resources for faculty and the library. These funds are the mainstay of the budget, allowing Reed to meet its most pressing needs.

Michael has been an active supporter of the Annual Fund since his senior year, when the New York Times published an article about how the recession forced Reed to scale back its spending on financial aid. “I listened to a lot of ivory-tower conversations around campus about the injustice of Reed not being need blind,” he remembers. “And thought, ‘Why don’t we do something about this instead of just talking about it?’”

Michael and several other students founded Reedies for Reed, a student group dedicated to building awareness of—and raising money for—the Annual Fund.

The AFR was founded in 2009 when its first chair, Konrad Alt ’81, brought together a group of alumni to discuss how to augment the college’s resources for uncompromising academic excellence. Since then, the AFR has matured into an affiliation of more than 130 volunteers, with an established steering committee and several working groups.

The AFR chair establishes targets on a number of fronts, including growing the base of alumni donors and volunteers, spearheading young alumni giving, and encouraging more alumni donations at the leadership level ($1,000 or more per year).

A few months after Michael graduated, Konrad asked him to work with the young alumni working group of AFR.

“On the young alumni side we try to make every outreach as warm as possible,” Michael explains. “Someone will say, ‘I know that person. I’ll reach out to them.’ We try to make it relevant—someone who shares your major, is in your age group, or shares a personal connection. It’s important they realize they’re giving to people, not just to the college. Reaching Reedies who have a connection to that shared experience is a big deal.”

Michael did a marketing internship during his senior year at Reed, and took to the profession like a duck to water. He is now vice president of marketing at AnyPerk, a San Francisco company that provides perks that other companies can plug into without having to manage the relationships or negotiate for their employees. It also offers products designed to recognize employee achievements, spurring morale, productivity, and retention. Prior to AnyPerk, Michael was vice president of marketing at

“Reed taught me some very practical skills for my career,” he says. “I learned to communicate clearly, argue to a point, and understand the human condition. Majoring in English pushed me to think about framing human experiences through stories, and that’s helped me better understand my audience.”

Michael thinks Reedies often misunderstand the concept of branding—at least as it applies to the college. “They think it’s way dirtier than it is,” he says. “A brand is literally a set of ideas and principles connected to form a distinct identity in the mind. Saying you’re against the brand of the college is like saying you don’t believe in its mission. Reed’s brand is its very core.”

Reedies tend to resonate with the ethos of the college, and Michael finds that alumni who don’t feel a natural urge to give back often have the most complaints.

“I tell them, ‘If you think there’s a bunch of things wrong with Reed, I guarantee you that having more resources will help address those things,’” he says.

Go Further

Find out how you can support the Annual Fund.