Building momentum in the College’s Alumni and Development Office

Friday 26 November 2021


The Alumni and Development Office (ADO) strengthens and sustains St Catharine’s for the benefit of our students and the College community now and for generations to come. The dynamic ADO team delivers a wide range of fundraising and alumni relations activities, including a regular giving programme, major giving and legacy giving circles, as well as a calendar of engaging events and communications.

The College is fortunate to have one of the longest established and most successful Development Offices in collegiate Cambridge. Over the last 14 years, the ADO has been led by Deborah Loveluck (2007), Fellow and Development Director.

We spoke with Deborah to find out about St Catharine’s philanthropy journey, the ‘Our College, Our Future’ campaign and new opportunities to join the ADO team.

A proud history of philanthropy

On St Catharine’s Day (25 November) each year, it is traditional for the College community to commemorate the generosity and vision of its major donors who have passed away. This history of giving can be traced back to Robert Woodlark who founded St Catharine’s in 1473. As Deborah explains:

“When I joined St Catharine’s in 2007, I was impressed by the foundation of philanthropy at the College – notably the generosity of Peter Boizot (1950, History) who contributed to St Catharine’s all weather hockey pitch, Sir Harvey McGrath (1971, Geography) who invested in College teaching and Herb Bate (1963, Mechanical Sciences) who generously supported rowing and the refurbishment of the St Catharine’s boathouse through his company, Argus Fire.

“As Development Director I embarked on developing philanthropic support for the College by improving the reliability of contact and business details, developing a vibrant communications strategy, implementing an extensive events programme and increasing major face-to-face fundraising. With the support of the previous Master (Professor Dame Jean Thomas) and the Fellowship, I slowly began to build a strong team in the ADO and soon launched the College’s first fundraising campaign, which became known as the St Catharine’s campaign.”

The St Catharine’s campaign ran from 2009 until 2016 and raised £30 million for teaching posts, student support and  the McGrath Centre. This £7.2 million project was the first building project in the College’s recent history to be entirely funded by alumni and friends. The McGrath Centre opened in 2013 and is a modern, multi-purpose building that houses an auditorium, foyer, bar and meeting room, creating a flexible space for events, conferences, teaching, concerts and socialising. The auditorium provides tiered retractable seating for up to 154 delegates, and is equipped with customisable lighting and audio-visual facilities.

McGrath Centre auditorium set up theatre style
McGrath Centre auditorium with rows of seats set up in a U-shape

2016–the present day: ‘Our College, Our Future’

In 2016, the College appointed a new Master, Professor Sir Mark Welland, and work began to understand how we would strengthen and sustain St Catharine’s for generations to come. After a 16-month period of careful reflection, we launched the ‘Our College, Our Future’ strategic plan in January 2019 to set out the shared vision and aims that will guide the College’s development until 2023.

Deborah comments, “It was clear that achieving these ambitious strategic aims needed substantial investment – in teaching and research, student support, College life and a planned renewal of our buildings and spaces – and a new £65 million fundraising campaign was launched to support the ‘Our College, Our Future’ plan. To date, thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have raised £53.3 million of the required £65 million and we are striving to complete the campaign in 2023.”

Recently, the ADO has enjoyed particular success integrating digital engagement activities as part of its 2020–21 programme, providing opportunities for alumni and friends to reconnect with College wherever they are in the world. A series of six virtual talks, known as Catz Chats, provided a forum for students, staff and Fellows to share different aspects of College life, and attracted approximately 2,000 views on YouTube. The ADO was excited to extend a warm virtual welcome to 300 Members and friends from all around the world at the inaugural St Catharine’s Alumni Festival in March 2021. Read our report from the Alumni Festival.

As a result, St Catharine’s continues to enjoy an exceptional track record in philanthropic fundraising. There are over 10,000 alumni on the College database and, in a typical year, more than 15% of these alumni will donate to the College.

Infographic explaining progress against the 'Our College, Our Future' campaign goals

The ADO is now focusing on completing the ‘Our College, Our Future’ campaign, with an emphasis on unrestricted giving so that the College is able to continue to invest in world-class teaching and research, providing generous student support, enriching College life and executing a planned renewal of our buildings and spaces.

View the ADO’s latest campaign film:

For further information, please visit the campaign microsite.

Exciting times ahead

The ADO is recruiting for four positions to build momentum in the final phase of the ‘Our College, Our Future’ campaign.

Organogram of the new ADO team structure

It is an exciting time to join the ADO at St Catharine’s, with opportunities for team members to take ownership of innovative alumni relations and fundraising activities:

“Our hardworking and creative team is focused on completing the ‘Our College, Our Future’ campaign. We have started blending in-person and digital activities: our first in-person Members’ Reunion, since the start of the pandemic, took place in College on 11 September 2021, followed by virtual gatherings for Members in Australia and New Zealand on 30 September and the USA and Canada on 2 October 2021. At the moment, we are producing a series of Campaign communications and films, including a new series of short videos entitled ‘My College, Our Future’ profiling some of our students, alumni, Fellows and staff.

The team who work in the St Catharine's Alumni and Development Office

“I look forward to building a strong ADO team at St Catharine’s to welcome four new team members who share our passion for fundraising and alumni relations. The application windows are still open for all four roles so I look forward to meeting candidates and then introducing new staff to the St Catharine’s community very soon.”

The new vacancies (click on each role to find out more)