The George Eastman Circle, UR’s annual leadership giving society, has reached a monumental 2,000 members, accomplishing the lofty feat put in place after reaching an original goal of 250 charter members in 2008.

The George Eastman Circle, which was launched in 2007, is a group of key UR supporters who honor the legacy of George Eastman, founder of Kodak and UR benefactor, by perpetuating his vision and philanthropic support through donations to UR’s Annual Fund, according to the group’s charter.

Annual giving levels for membership in the Circle range from $1,500 annually to first achieve membership status and $50,000 plus annually to become a founder. Members must make a five year commitment.

Associate membership is also offered exclusively to recent graduates of the classes 2001-2011 and entails a commitment of $4,000 over a five-year period. Money raised by the George Eastman Circle supports nearly all areas of campus, including student scholarships, faculty, healthcare, art and culture, medical research and facilities.

The milestone number of members could portend the success of the Meliora Challenge, UR President Joel Seligman’s ambitious plan to raise $1.2 billion, which was announced this fall. The membership could also be a direct result of it, according to Executive Director for Annual Giving Programs  Martha Krohn.

“I absolutely think that membership is increasing because of the visibility of the campaign,” she said. “Locally, it’s easy for people to see the impact of donating.”

This year’s Meliora Weekend garnered the greatest number of attendees in the event’s history, a milestone which contributed to people seeing firsthand the impact that giving can have on UR, Krohn said.

And “all types of people” are joining the Circle — not just alumni, but patients who feel good about their experience at the UR Medical Center, parents who feel good about their children’s experience at UR and many others.

Krohn also noted that the spike in membership is particularly notable given current harsh economic times and the fact that Circle membership is conditional on making a five-year pledge, which is rare for most annual giving funds.

“People would not be making this investment if UR did not have such a great reputation,” she said.

The number of members is also notable because of what is involved in being a member — members are not only George Eastman Circle members, but also volunteers who are involved in the University and giving their time.

“It really says a lot about our institution and our reputation that people feel good about the investment that they are making,” Krohn added.

Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.

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