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College Giving is Increasing. Why is Alumni Participation Declining?


For a second year running, charitable giving to colleges and universities in the U.S. has reached a historic high according to a report issued last week by the Council for Aid to Education. However, the report also found that alumni participation continues to decline. At Talivest, we’re combating that decline and helping institutions to reap the rewards.

Art valued at $216.62-million was donated to The University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This was the largest single donation made to a U.S institution last year.

Compared to 2013, U.S. Colleges saw a 10.8 percent increase in donation figures. The total figure in 2014 was $37.45-billion, the highest amount recorded since the survey started in 1957.

The survey, “Voluntary Support of Education” is considered to be the most comprehensive measure of private giving to U.S. institutions. In 2014, it surveyed 1,018 institutions capturing giving by individuals, foundations and corporates to colleges across the U.S.

Major gifts were the main component of college donations in 2014. Five U.S. institutions reported receiving single gifts in excess of $100 million.

Although donation figures increased in 2014, alumni participation continues to decline. In 2013, 8.7 percent of alumni donated back. In 2014, this decreased to 8.3 percent. Institutions are being reconnected with lost alumni with up to date information and contact details. The numbers of donors however, is not increasing in line with the increase in the prospect pool. Technology is helping institutions enlarge the prospect pool, but it is not helping institutions engage with these new found connections.

This is where Talivest comes in. We provide a comprehensive solution for institutions to engage with their alumni on their terms. We help institutions develop long-term, sustainable relationships with their alumni. Giving back can take many forms, and are not solely monetary – I recently wrote a piece on ‘5 Ways to Give Back to your School, College or University’

These positive alumni relationships can help institutions reap the rewards when fundraising. Regular donations are much more likely and can be extremely powerful compared to one off major gifts. If technology provides you with up to date details for 500 of your lost alumni, but it can now help convert those to regular donors or even produce a major gift, that is technology worth investing in.

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