Alumni Support

Despite the economic climate, two major Universities (Brandeis and YU)  have announced record levels of contributions for the past year. It is interesting that both recognize the value of gifts from their alumni and cultivating their graduates. The value is immense with an estimated 60% plus of gifts at many major universities coming from their alumni community.

But, alumni giving is much more than the dollar gifts. From Tactical Philanthropy:

“Schools that have a large percentage of donating alumni, especially among younger alums, are encouraging a mindset that spans beyond money. A donation from a younger alumnus is a powerful statement that his or her experience really meant something to them. In addition to foreshadowing future giving (likely at a more substantial amount), the same alumni who donate money are the ones helping promote evangelize the school brand, network and help students with jobs and volunteer for development efforts.”

Geez, I wish our Jewish communal organizations would recognize this. There are tens, and more likely hundreds, of thousands of alumni from various domestic youth and Israel long-term programs who having moved onward and upward in the world, maintain a fondness for these programs. Prime material not only for giving but generally supporting and promoting the ‘brand’.

As a community we have been anything but stellar in this regard. Some organizations, particularly the URJ’s camp network, have recently started to successfully move forward and correct this long-time oversight. Others like Hadassah’s Young Judaea, assuming the message they send to WUJS Arad alumni matches their other Israel programs, is quite honestly, a disgrace.

Back in January, I sat with Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz to discuss philanthropy in higher education. And as part of the many insightful comments, and overall optimism for the future Reinharz expressed, we talked a bit about the long-term neccessity of building a strong alumni giving program. I see by the recent announcement that the University met their goal of seven figure alumni gifts for the past year.  YU also showed considerable increases in alumni gifts from the year before. Kol HaKavod to both institutions for the effective use of their alumni networks.

Now, let all our youth movements, Israel programs, etc. hear the message loud and clear. To paraphrase from the Tactical Philanthropy link above:

In conclusion, all our organizations need to find a new medium by which to appeal to all, but particularly, their young alumni. They must also provide them with the incentives to ‘give’ in a number of different contexts. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this at low cost is by leveraging the social network that already exists among an active alumni base using technology. The popularity of online social networks happened for a reason – the ability to connect, find and access people and information 24/7 is a huge source of value. Fortunately for all of us, the opportunity to take advantage of online social networking has never been better.

Brandeis Enjoys Best Fundraisng Year Ever

Despite an uncertain economy and ongoing turmoil in the financial markets, Brandeis just concluded its best fundraising year ever.

In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, Brandeis established new standards for both cash received ($90.4 million, breaking last year’s record of $89.4 million) and new pledges ($72.8 million, topping the 2006 mark of $65.3 million). Gifts from alumni totaled more than $25 million, bettering the 2006 record of $19.7 million.

Brandeis has set new cash records in each of the last three years and now raises more than four times the amount it did in 1994, when Jehuda Reinharz, PhD ’72, became president and charted a new era of philanthropy at the University.

Giving to Yeshiva University Continues to Set Records with 30 New Gifts of $1 Million and Above

Setting a University record for total cash received—$104 million—Yeshiva University just closed the books on one of the strongest fundraising years in its history. The University received 30 new gifts of $1 million and above, the largest such number in its history, a trend powered in part by last year’s $100 million gift from former YU Board Chairman (now chairman emeritus) Ronald P. Stanton. Overall, more than 10,700 gave to the University, their gifts adding up to $146.8 million in total philanthropic funds.