Campaigns: Monroe Community College Foundation - Bronze Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
Category 2D. Fundraising Programs: Campaigns
Monroe Community College Foundation
Help Build the PAC at MCC


Diane L. Shoger
Director of Development & Major Gifts
Monroe Community College Foundation
228 East Main Street
Damon City Campus
Rochester, NY 14604
(585) 262-1500


Diane L. Shoger Project Manager
Karin Wilson Administrative Assistant, Creative Support
Rosanna Condello Creative Support, Communications, Public Relations

On the heels of a highly-successful comprehensive capital campaign completed in 2005, Monroe Community College and the Monroe Community College Foundation moved rapidly to assess the feasibility of embarking on another capital initiative to raise $6 million in private funds to match a $6 million grant from New York State to build a field house. The results of the study suggested the singular focus of a campaign to raise funds for the construction of a new athletic, fitness and recreation facility was challenging, requiring a strong case for support and collateral materials that directly addressed questions and concerns raised during the feasibility study. Campaign leaders proceeded with a “traditional” campaign approach after the planning study results indicated success was possible and the leadership of both the college and foundation endorsed a new campaign.

In December 2006 the campaign’s honorary chair and lead gift prospect, PAETEC Holding Corp. Chairman and CEO Arunas A. Chesonis, was solicited for his gift. Mr. Chesonis challenged the traditional fundraising approach and urged the MCC Foundation and campaign leaders to find new ways to reach new audiences, market to the entire community and take the opportunity the campaign presented to educate and inform as many people as possible about the benefits of the new field house and the important role MCC plays in our community’s economic health. Within the Greater Rochester community especially, Mr. Chesonis is lauded for his business acumen, having taken a start-up, telecommunications company to world-class status in nine years. Given Mr. Chesonis’ encouragement—combined with a $1.5 million challenge grant from his family foundation–-the campaign was taken in a new direction, beginning with a press conference announcing the Chesonis Family Foundation Challenge on January 17, 2007. At the outdoor press conference, the field house’s official name, the PAC Center, was also announced. The facility is named for Mr. Chesonis’ wife, MCC alumna Pamela A. Chesonis.

Billboards, radio advertisements and printed materials were produced and re-branded for the PAC Center with partner agency Dixon Schwabl Advertising. Web pages specific to the PAC Center Campaign/Chesonis Family Challenge were also developed and launched within the MCC Web site. A direct mail piece, including a message from MCC President R. Thomas Flynn, was mailed to 10,000 MCC alumni. There is no doubt that the case for support and other printed campaign materials invoked a sense of urgency and provided compelling arguments necessary to motivate gifts and pledges. Donors and prospects alike were impressed with the cohesiveness and professionalism of the campaign and its components.

A targeted list of the area’s top 75 business and community leaders, identified as having the potential of contributing $25,000 and over, was developed. Each leader received a three-dimensional, high-impact invitation to attend one of three “breakfast briefings” hosted by Mr. Chesonis and President Flynn. The invitation included a triggered audio recording of Mr. Chesonis encouraging these prospects to attend a briefing to learn more about the PAC Center and the campaign.

A DVD was produced to address the community’s need for the PAC Center, its impact on student success, the retention of young people in our community and the $1.5 Million Challenge. It featured a testimonial from Mr. Chesonis. Copies of the DVD were used in a business outreach mailing and as a leave-behind for personal solicitations. The recording was also posted to the Web page.

To keep the campaign in the media spotlight over the summer, an MCC Coaches’ Conference was developed in partnership with Dixon Schwabl and hosted at the local baseball stadium, Frontier Field. The conference served to educate MCC’s outstanding coaching staff—members of the number one ranked community college athletics program in the nation—about the PAC Center and the benefits it would provide to MCC students, faculty and community members. Brian Gionta, National Hockey League star and Rochester native, was the featured guest and addressed the coaches on the importance of fitness facilities within the community. The presence of Gionta at the conference resulted in television news coverage regarding the PAC Center.

Telemarketing was used to contact 23,000 alumni, parents of current students and retirees. As a result, 827 pledges were received, making alumni the largest segment of the campaign at 54 percent and including 298 parents who contributed to the campaign.

During the Fall 2007 semester, alumni, faculty, staff and friends were encouraged to “put their thanks in stone” and support the PAC campaign through the purchase of a commemorative brick or paver. A press release was distributed to local media. At the college, internal tools such as a daily e-newsletter (MCC Daily Tribune), Campus News (bi-monthly printed newsletter), Foundations (quarterly printed newsletter), on-campus plasma screens, post cards and posters were used to promote participation. A “Support the PAC” bricks and pavers display was also presented within the faculty dining room. When the PAC Center opens in Fall 2008, it will be adjoined by a patio containing more than 560 messages of thanks and inspiration from the people MCC has touched in its 46 year history.

In December 2007, the campaign chair, Richard “Otto” Ottalagana, director of the MCC Foundation Board, increased his initial gift of $25,000 to $100,000, thus completing the Chesonis Family Challenge and bringing the campaign over its goal.

The PAC Center campaign secured the funding necessary to build a desperately needed athletic, fitness and recreational facility for the over 36,000 students served by MCC annually. (The original physical education complex was built in the 1960’s when the college served a student body one quarter of its present size.) The PAC Center will make MCC more competitive and offer an educational experience that truly rivals those offered by innovative four-year colleges.

Program goals

To maximize visibility of Monroe Community College and the Monroe Community College Foundation and the potential impact of the PAC Center (MCC’s new athletic, fitness and recreational facility) on the Greater Rochester community through creative fundraising and public relations applications.

  1. To meet the $1.5 million challenge issued by the Chesonis Family Foundation to the Greater Rochester community.
  2. To increase the size of the donor base by securing new gifts/pledges in support of the PAC Center at MCC.

Program objective

By December 31, 2007, complete the $1.5 million challenge issued by the Chesonis Family Foundation, bringing the total amount of private funds raised in support of the PAC Center to $6 million.

Target audiences

  • Greater Rochester Community – local business leaders and philanthropists
  • Monroe Community College Alumni – current donors and non-donors
  • Parents of MCC students
  • MCC Trustees and MCC Foundation Directors
  • MCC Administrators, Faculty, Staff and Retirees

Total number of participants

1,235 corporate and individual donors contributed to the PAC Center Campaign

Total number of living and addressable alumni

74,165 (please note: for campaign purposes, a segment of 33,000 alumni was targeted using direct mail or telemarketing)

Program budget



The PAC Center campaign achieved its goal of raising $6 million in private funds, including the $1.5 million challenge. Gifts ranged from $1 to $1.5 million. Over 100 local business leaders and philanthropists were engaged by private breakfast briefings and personal solicitations resulting in eight gifts of $100,000 or more. Targeted telemarketing to alumni and parents yielded $150,000. The commemorative bricks and pavers special promotion resulted in the sale of 561 bricks and pavers which will comprise a patio adjacent to the PAC Center. Monroe Community College and Foundation leaders participated at 100 percent; 108 faculty and staff members and retirees also participated.

Monroe Community College Foundation mission statement

The Monroe Community College Foundation was established in 1983 to secure private sector support to supplement and enhance public funding at Monroe Community College. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit corporation that solicits, accepts, manages, invests and distributes contributions and communicates with donors and prospects regularly. It serves as a repository for all private, non-governmental gifts and support received on behalf of the College.