Michael Weisburger '82 goes the extra mile to ramp up alumni giving
By Shannon Sigafoos
It has been said that the unique bonds formed while traveling are unlike any other. For Michael Weisburger ’82, the bonds he formed during his years at Lafayette have fueled recent travels—stops that have allowed him to connect with other alums and express how and why it’s so important to give back to the College through the gifts of both time and treasure.
“I can’t help myself. I love traveling, and I love giving back,” says Weisburger, who chairs the Annual Fund in a volunteer position and recently went on “tour” to four regional advisory council meetings (Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and West Coast) to speak about the importance of annual giving. “The alums that we presented to are all passionate about Lafayette and eager to participate and give back. What we need to do is harvest that energy and give them easy-to-use tools to do just that.”
The presentations Weisburger gave in conjunction with Chad Davis, senior director of annual and leadership giving, including a presentation to the Alumni Council, explained historical trends and the need to reach new donors each year. Having driven across the country in 2014 (along with his wife, Jenny Marshall Weisburger ’82) to promote graduate goodwill and the 150th Lafayette-Lehigh football game, Weisburger learned a few things about the importance of peer-to-peer outreach and finding ways to reconnect with Lafayette through specific activities.
“Giving back comes in many shapes and sizes. I would suggest asking yourself things like, ‘What brought me the most joy during those four years?’ or ‘Are there any favorite professors I could reconnect with?’” he suggests. “Which friends of mine are engaged with Lafayette? Why not connect with them and get involved? If you do any of these things and see yourself re-engaging, we have a place for you.”
Weisburger’s enthusiasm and efforts couldn’t have helped more to incentivize volunteer donors during his visit to the four regional meetings. “It was incredible having Michael present and interact at the four council meetings. His passion and commitment to Lafayette are tremendous,” says Davis. “He has the ability to be genuine with fellow alumni and volunteers, and shares the message about the importance and value of giving in a way staff simply can’t.”
Perhaps foreshadowing his eventual connection with traveling on behalf of the College, Weisburger recalls taking class bus trips to Jim Thorpe with Don Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor Emeritus of History, and those special outings helping the students connect with each other and the material. The environment Lafayette offered him and the quality education he received, he says, enabled him to grow up and prepare for the rest of his life.
As a current resident of Bedford, N.Y., Weisburger is able to visit campus often and notes if that level of high engagement begins when students are undergrads, it builds a true culture of philanthropy—and if done correctly and organically, support for the Annual Fund will continue to build.
“My main sentiment is asking how we keep Lafayette relevant when it comes to talking about the value of attending a liberal arts college like ours. The Annual Fund raises funds that the College actually lives on. In my mind, those are the immediate needs of the school over the next 12 months that will help us stay relevant today,” he says. “Other contributions to the school and to the endowment are what Lafayette will grow on.”
Weisburger wants today’s students to have the strength of the Lafayette experience many years beyond their own graduations—the same way his own experiences here remain very relevant to him today.
“The connections I made at Lafayette have given me great personal joy and, in some instances, professional success. Anything related to success comes from truly investing,” he says, “in personal relationships and building trust.”