By Stephen Gruber-Miller
Alumni donations to the College rose 27 percent from last year. The donations total $6,568,585, including a $1,412,191 increase over the last fiscal year.
Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Beth Halloran said the increase is largely due to efforts by the department to encourage directed giving. With directed giving, the donor can choose what the money should be spent on, as opposed to a general gift, which can be spent however the College sees fit.
This year, by far the most common place for alumni to direct their donations was to designated scholarships.
Halloran said there were only 12 donors who gave gifts targeted at scholarships in fiscal year 2012, before Alumni Relations started the push for directed giving. This fiscal year, 759 alumni have already donated to scholarships.
Other popular recipients of directed giving are athletic departments, the Prison Program and the President’s discretionary fund.
Halloran said she believes the need-blind admissions debate has gone hand-in-hand with the directed giving initiative to encourage donations, especially to scholarships. She expects the increase to continue.
Halloran also praised the alumni class fund directors for their efforts to engage the alumni community in college affairs. In particular, she acknowledged that the classes of ’68, ’62 and ’65 have the highest percentage of alumni giving. All three classes have above a 50 percent giving rate, while the average for all alumni is 32 percent.
The College has been working to improve alumni relations in other ways, as well.
“We’ve worked really hard to increase alumni engagement,” Halloran said.
One strategy has been to send President Raynard Kington around the country to speak with alumni about the College’s future and the importance of giving.
Kington’s message is that without support, access and excellence in education are both under threat.
Another source of income is from philanthropic investors, who can be anyone from alumni to parents to people with no relationship to Grinnell. This year, 620 new philanthropic investors made donations to Grinnell.
Alumni Council Member and Pioneer Fund Development Committee Chair Ed Senn ’79 recently reached out to students to increase senior giving.
The Alumni Council matches donations made by seniors, so Senn and other alumni tabled at the JRC to talk to seniors and encourage them to give. Those who donated were given red and black cockades.
Senn said before they started tabling, four percent of seniors had donated. By the time they were done, that number had increased to 15 percent.
Senn said he appreciated the opportunity for alumni to reach out to current students and build relationships with them.
“The students were great,” he said.
He added that he was pleased with the transparency of the need-blind discussion process and he could tell that students were invested in the College’s future.
Halloran agreed that student outreach is important.
“I think we have to work with all our constituencies, including our current students,” she said.