How Many Alumni Make Donations?

The Charger Bulletin

Contributing writer
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Alumni everywhere can relate to the excessive phone calls from little undergrads begging for donations for their college.  Alumni receive letters in the mail from their alma maters with donation slips and pre-addressed envelopes included. With all of these prompts to donate, it makes the university look desperate for them. It leads to the question of how many alumni actually donate back to their alma maters and why they would.

It all depends on the colleges asking for money. As of 2014, Princeton was the most donated to college in the US, according to U.S. News, but even then, it was only an average of 62.2 percent of alumni who donated over a two-year period. A more recent list, provided by College Xpress, lists almost 100 prestigious colleges and the percentage of donations they receive as of 2015. The lowest was 35 percent, the highest 76 percent. This is only in prestigious, private colleges outside of that. The percentages drop significantly into the twenties, teens, and some are even in the single digits.

The reason for this is pretty simple: the more prestigious the college, the more prestige an alumnus has. One of the top reasons for alumni to donate back to their alma mater is the recognition alumni get when they are listed as a donor by the university. It logically follows that schools like Bowden, Princeton, and Wellesley would have the higher amount of donations over schools like SUNY, UMASS, and UCLA.

Donating back to alma maters has decreased over the past few years. The biggest reason new grads aren’t giving back to their alma maters is because they have thousands of dollars in debt. New grads don’t have the resources to donate money back when they have to make payments on their college loads, whether federal subsidies or loans taken from the college. Mark Kantrowitz, a publisher at Edvisors, a website devoted to helping students cover college prices, over 70 percent of seniors graduating in 2015 have student debt. That debt, on average, is a little over $35,000. In 2014, the average starting salary for a new grad was $45,478, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

It makes sense that, with such a low starting salary, new grads would be more reluctant to give back to their universities. They’re too focused on making sure they can pay off student loans to pay tribute back to their alma maters.