After a competitive national search, Meghan D. Palombo M.B.A. ’23 has been hired as associate vice president for annual giving and philanthropic engagement and will begin her new role immediately. Palombo has been serving as the executive director for annual giving and data analytics at William & Mary and is only the second person in the last decade to hold this senior role.
“For eight consecutive years, William & Mary has had the highest percentage of undergraduate alumni who give back to the university of any public university in the nation, and Meghan has played a key role in achieving and maintaining that focus on broad-based philanthropy,” said Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for University Advancement. “Her commitment to collaboration across the university strengthens our culture of engagement and philanthropy, and I am thrilled she will continue to lead the way in this new role.”
The associate vice president for annual giving and philanthropic engagement is responsible for the innovative strategic design, development and implementation of all aspects of the university’s Annual Giving Program, which includes leadership and digital annual giving, student and young alumni philanthropy, reunion and affinity annual giving, lifetime annual giving and direct marketing.
The AVP also leads One Tribe One Day, W&M’s annual day of giving back and paying it forward, and is responsible for meeting and exceeding annual fundraising and participation goals. The AVP also serves as a strategic advisor to the schools and units, manages the Annual Giving Board of Directors and oversees a portfolio of donors in addition to serving as a member of the vice president’s Executive Leadership Team.
“After a thorough process with many qualified candidates, I am delighted that Meghan will be serving in this important role for the university,” said Sherri Sell Phillips ’83, co-chair of the Annual Giving Board of Directors. “As a member and now co-chair of the Annual Giving board, I’ve worked closely with Meghan and her team for many years. She is a joy to work with and an ambassador for W&M. She is open to new ideas from our creative board, and she keeps all of us volunteers on task with her signature smile and strong W&M work ethic. I am excited to continue our partnership.”
Palombo has more than a decade of experience in higher education advancement and annual giving. She joined William & Mary as director of direct marketing in 2018 and then was promoted to executive director in 2020 after previously serving in development and direct marketing roles at Louisiana State University and Cornell University.
As executive director for annual giving and data analytics, Palombo has expanded William & Mary’s strong advancement program through new initiatives and collaborative partnerships. In coordination with the Annual Giving board, she spearheaded the launch of the fraternity & sorority life alumni giving challenge, which expanded participation among those who were affiliated with Greek organizations as students.
Her partnership with Athletics has increased their active donor count by 25%, while the Fund for William & Mary, the university’s largest source of unrestricted funds, has experienced a 32% growth in average gift size since fiscal year 2020 under her leadership. The senior class gift program for the Class of 2023 implemented new approaches to reach graduating students, achieving 67% participation and earning a CASE silver award. This year’s One Tribe One Day was the most successful ever in terms of dollars raised, with 11,376 alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends collectively giving more than $4 million to nearly 800 areas across William & Mary.
Palombo is dedicated to systems thinking and data-driven decision making. As director of direct marketing, she identified gaps in her team’s daily processes and collaborated with the director of information strategy to create a data-gathering technology that is still in use today. She helped to implement the partnership with Givzey to make giving to W&M accessible to more donors and has expanded the work with GiveCampus to enable volunteers to extend the reach of our staff and to find more ways to create efficiencies in philanthropic processes. In preparation for the next comprehensive campaign, she is currently leading the implementation of W&M’s first digital annual giving program with Evertrue and building a reimagined leadership annual giving team.
“An integral part of my leadership identity is building an inclusive and supportive work environment, and I am dedicated to developing talent internally and externally,” said Palombo. “Belonging is one of William & Mary’s core values which extends to every aspect of our university, including annual giving. By ensuring our fundraising efforts are inclusive, we can strengthen our community, build lasting relationships and make a meaningful impact on the future of William & Mary.”
Palombo is also a leader in her field. She is currently the vice chair of the Annual Giving Directors Consortium, a collaborative network of annual giving professionals from the top programs nationwide.
“I am thrilled about this incredible opportunity to build on the great legacy of philanthropy at William & Mary — a place and a community that mean so much to me. As a recent W&M MBA alumna, it is a privilege to continue supporting W&M’s mission to inspire lifelong learners, generate new knowledge and expand understanding,” said Palombo. “It is exciting to be able to embrace innovation while focusing on strengthening the culture of philanthropic engagement. William & Mary is an institution that values curiosity, and I cannot think of a better place to push the boundaries of what we can do and see what we can accomplish together in the years to come.”
Learn more about the impact of annual giving on the university and its students, faculty, staff, alumni and community.