Alumni Giving Grows in 2008-09

View of Hamilton's Chapel
View of Hamilton's Chapel
Despite the challenging economic climate, the number of Hamilton alumni who gave unrestricted contributions to the College in the last year increased as compared with the previous year as did the size of their gifts. More than 52 percent of all alumni participated in the fund, making this the 28th consecutive year that at least 50 percent have contributed.

Fewer than two dozen U.S. colleges and universities have alumni participation rates greater than 50 percent, and even fewer have sustained that rate for multiple years. Nationally, Hamilton is among the top 1 percent of institutions of higher education in the percentage of alumni who financially support their alma mater.

“Annual fund participation is the bellwether of every fundraising year,” said Vice President of Communication and Development Richard Tantillo. “Overall giving can easily be distorted by a major gift, but participation is a true indicator of the engagement of our alumni.”

Annual fund participation rates and dollars for most U.S. colleges and universities declined this year. Total unrestricted dollars given by Hamilton alumni increased from $5.8 million to $6 million. Almost half, 48.5% of all alumni donors, increased their gifts this year.

“These remarkable results are a testament to the persistent commitment and generosity of loyal Hamilton alumni and friends,” said Jon Hysell, director of annual giving. “The significance of this successful effort is that contributions will have an immediate, positive impact on the lives of our students.”

Hysell points to several “challenges” launched by the College as incremental elements key to this year’s success. Among these was the Hamilton/Colgate challenge in which Hamilton, with the most new alumni donors in the month of April, won. At the end of April, 1,308 Hamilton alumni had made unrestricted gifts to the College, four times the number of donors who gave in April 2008. Colgate trailed Hamilton by 97 donors.

The individual efforts of many alumni leaders were also essential to success. Katie Boyer ’93 sent 99 individually personalized e-mails to her classmates who hadn’t made a contribution. Gil Adams, a member of the class of 1945, made it his goal to ensure that 100 percent of his class contributed. He wrote letters to each member and continued to follow up with the alumni office until he achieved his goal. John Driscoll ’58 checked daily on the results for his class and made calls to each classmate to solicit a gift. Young alumni took advantage of social media by creating class Facebook pages to encourage participation.

Almost 95 percent of this year's graduating seniors also contributed to the College via their class gift. This is the 16th consecutive year that the senior class participation rate has topped 90 percent.

George Baker '74. an alumni trustee who chaired the annual fund campaign, said, "The generosity of our alumni enables Hamilton to support the brightest, most committed students and maintain its position at the fore of liberal arts education. That our alumni dug down deep and achieved the historic record of $6 million raised in this year's campaign even in the face of the nation's economic tsunami affirms to me that "giving back" is an essential defining and distinguishing part of being a Hamilton alumnus. Giving back is simply in our DNA as Hamilton alumni. It is a true reflection of who we are as alumni of this wonderful College and it truly sets Hamilton apart from the great mass of colleges and universities in this country. I am so proud of what our alumni have accomplished this year but I guess I should not be surprised--after all, it's who we are. "

This story appeared in the July issue of eNews.
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