Friends of Wolfson on Zoom

Donor Report 2020

Better together

Friends of Wolfson on Zoom

From our Development Director

As we commence the new academic year and reflect on the challenges and achievements of 2019–2020, we have experienced what must surely be one of the most unexpected years in Wolfson’s history.

Our academic year split into two. At the outset, our goals were to develop our alumni networks at home and abroad and to fundraise in support of Wolfson’s strategic plan. Six months into the year, we welcomed more alumni at events than ever before, saw a positive upwards trend in donors at all giving levels and launched the President’s Circle with a gathering for over 100 major donors in the President’s Lodge.

Then COVID arrived and that’s when our community really stepped up and came into its own. Here in the Development Office we moved all events online and aimed to keep you updated with College news through a monthly e-news and personal letters from the President. We were open about the challenges the College faced, our finances and the uncertainty created by the pandemic. You responded with warmth and generosity. Throughout this Review, you can read some of the many stories, messages and reflections from alumni, members, friends and students and of their amazing achievements.

On behalf of everyone at Wolfson and all those who have benefitted from your kindness, we cannot thank you enough for your messages of support and goodwill and for your many gifts — we are indeed better together.

This academic year you can be sure that we are moving forward in support of our global networks and community and the College’s financial health and strategic priorities, raising funds for our researchers and students as they strive to make the world better.

Sian Cook, Development Director

Year by the numbers

In 2020, over £1 million was awarded to 265 different students. We were also able to fully fund 13 PhD scholarships through partnerships with the Cambridge Trust, University Departments, and other funders. 

Donor Summary
Total funds raised Percentage of 2019–2020 donors who had never given before
£1.07m 33%
Student Support
Total amount of student support awarded Number of PhD students fully funded % of Wolfson undergraduates eligible for a Cambridge Bursary Number receiving maximum of £3,500
£946k 13 43% 69
Hardship Awards
Number of students Average award Total amount given
77 £466 £48.5k
COVID Emergency Appeal (Apr-Sept)

Nearly every aspect of normal life has been affected by the global COVID pandemic. Over the summer, around the time of our 55th anniversary, usually a time of celebration and get-togethers, a special COVID Emergency Appeal became the focus of fundraising efforts. The College urgently needed funding to make Wolfson COVID-secure (such as providing masks, screens and hand-sanitising stations) which enabled us to open up again to students, staff and members; providing bursaries and grants to students in greatest financial need; and to allow for financial resilience at a time when the College experienced a drop in income of £900K — meaning we were able to deploy funds in a flexible and timely way. The support of so many of our members, through their donations and kind messages has been a tremendous boost. Wolfson is a truly special community.

COVID Appeal
Total amount Number of gifts New donors
£320k 322 66

We have been very lucky to receive generous donations of face coverings during this period.

  • Professor Shi Liu (1989) and his wife Mrs Yolanda Chi very kindly donated 33,000 face coverings for use at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the College.
  • Alumnus Lucas Jiang (2003) also donated a number of disposable face coverings to the College.
  • The Society of Emeritus Fellows has been raising funds to help College provide Wolfson-branded washable face coverings for staff and students.

A donation from an alumnus also allowed us to refurbish the Porters' Lodge, providing more space for our porters to socially distance. The new Lodge is also more comfortable for our staff, and features increased levels of accessibility and energy efficiency. 

Wolfson BME MPhil awards

We are excited to launch a new fund specifically for MPhil students from BME backgrounds who have experienced educational disadvantage. This will provide funding to bridge the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate study. We are seeking donations in increments of £1,000 and are delighted that we have already received contributions. You can find out more about the fund and contribute at our BME MPhil Fund page.

My time at Wolfson was a truly wonderful and eye-opening education on the diverse paths we each take in our academic careers. Wolfson is the epicentre of Cantabrigian diversity, and gave me the desire to give back and support the College in its mission of academic inclusivity and excellence.

Graham Mills (2014), Wolfson donor

Launch of The President's Circle

A reception to celebrate the launch of The President’s Circle was held at the President’s Lodge in early November 2019. It was attended by more than one hundred people who were invited to become founding members. The President’s Circle is a group of people whose giving has had a transformative effect on the College.

Derek Ingram Press Fellowship

The Wolfson College Commonwealth Journalists Association Derek Ingram Fellowship was established in honour of the long and distinguished career of Derek Ingram OBE and his outstanding work as a journalist. Derek was passionate in his encouragement of journalists, especially those from less advantaged backgrounds. This award recognises Derek, not only as an eminent journalist and advocate of human rights but also as a friend of Wolfson College. The first award will be made for a journalist to study in 2021. More about the Fellowship can be found in our announcement earlier this year.


Leanne Gayle
Leanne is greeted by Professor Jane Clarke at matriculation

Donald & Beryl O’May Studentship and the Santander Bursary

I am very grateful to have received the competitive Donald & Beryl O’May Studentship as well as the new Santander Bursary from Wolfson College. I immediately signed up to be on the student committee as the BAME officer to host and organise events for students from minority backgrounds. Furthermore I am currently on the committee for the Cambridge Women in Business Society and regularly take part in University and college sport. The funding has been particularly helpful over the summer, which I usually spend working, but this summer I have been able to volunteer and support the College’s virtual open days. I hope to continue to contribute to Wolfson more in the future by supporting access.

Leanne Gale, BA HSPS (2019)


Anna Chaplin
Anna Chaplin, PhD Biological Science (2017)

I have made lifelong friends at Wolfson; I even met my partner in the Club Room! Without the funding I received from Wolfson donors, I would not have been able to study at Cambridge. It gave me the opportunity to pursue my interest in mental health, learn from experts, and challenge myself. I will always look back at this period of my life with a particular fondness.

Anna Chaplin, PhD Biological Science (2017)


Yingyue Luan
Yingyue Luan, PhD Management Studies (2019)

During lockdown we were lucky to have our College garden, so we could take a walk, relax or study, and we received all kinds of support from the College. I have made friends who are interested in different subjects and learned so much from them. Wolfson has helped me maintain a good work-life balance, so I am not overwhelmed by the PhD life. Receiving funding has been a great motivation for me and I have made huge progress toward the submission of my first paper and initiated new projects.

Yingyue Luan, PhD Management Studies (2019)


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