Sep 232002
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

Alumni donations

For people who have graduated from a university such as CSU, giving back can be one way to show support for their alma mater.

Alumni donations and gifts for CSU totaled over $2.3 million for the 2001 fiscal year – half of the previous year’s total, according to numbers given by Ann Yates, Director of Advancement Services.

Sept. 11 and previous large gifts could have affected the decrease.

“Most schools noticed a downturn to Sept. 11,” Jean Rahn, executive director of the Directors of Development, University of Advancement, said. “At first, we were impacted because people were giving to the Red Cross and because people were tighter about their money because of the economy.”

One-time large gifts from single people can skew those figures, Rahn said.

For example, a $1.5 million gift from one alum was given to the university last year which increased that year’s total amount, but gifts in that amount do not happen every year.

The way gifts and donations are recorded can also affect the total amount of alumni gifts.

A $5 million gift was donated to the university this year by a family foundation that an alum set up, but because the gift did not come directly from the alumnus, the gift was not added towards the year’s total amount of alumni gifts.

There are currently over 140,000 CSU alumni worldwide and more than 9,000 gave to the university for the 2001 fiscal year, which runs from July to June.

“It really is a measurement of how our alumni value their education,” said Rahn, “Alumni is family and it means a lot to have their support.”

CSU tries to compare itself to other land grant universities and their alumni donations.

CSU’s land-grant institution peer, the University of Wyoming, raised $10.5 million in alumni donations, according to UW’s website.

The Directors of Development, which is responsible for alumni donations, uses Call-A-Ram, a phone-a-thon program, which reaches over 100,000 alumni during the school year. Approximately 1,100 calls are made a night by 18 students, according to Daisy Lopez, a CSU alumna who supervises the program.

“We are fundraisers, so we are calling for donations but we are also ambassadors for the university,” Lopez said. “A lot of the alumni haven’t had contact with the university for a while, so getting them up to date on events at CSU, talking about the campus, just getting them to feel good about CSU is another part of our mission. “

Last year the program raised $690,000 in alumni gifts. The program has existed for 15 years.

When an alumnus makes a donation to the university, he or she decides where the gift is allocated to: athletics, a certain college or towards certain building projects.

Various building projects have been funded by private donations, such as the University Center for the Arts, in which $7 million was raised. Private donations and gifts also funded the veterinary cancer wing and additions to the engineering building.

“It enriches the whole experience for students to have that kind of activity going on,” Rahn said.

Alumni gifts can be utilized in several different ways, according to Rahn.

Donations also go towards equipment, library resources and endowed chairs. Endowed chairs allow CSU to bring a distinguished faculty position, “true academic stars”, in particular fields and pay them more money than CSU would normally be able to pay, Rahn said.

Rahn believes alumni donations directly impact students in the form of scholarships. Every year, hundreds of scholarships are made possible by alumni donations.

“Alumni gifts are very important because they tend to continue over the year,” Rahn said. “Some alumni will make one-time large gifts, many alumni will give a modest amount but they might do it for 25 or 30 years and that is an incredible impact on the institution.”

Past Alumni Donations

Fiscal Year 02 (7/1/01-6/30/02) $2,344,941.36

Fiscal Year 01 (7/1/00-6/30/01) $4,598,367.03

Fiscal Year 00 (7/1/99-6/30/00) $2,289,724.61

Fiscal Year 99 (7/1/98-6/30/99) $1,906,782.80

Fiscal Year 98 (7/1/97-6/30/98) $2,685,396.10

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