Leavey family challenges young alumni to give back
The Santa Clara
October 4, 2018
At Santa Clara, student tuition only covers 75 percent of the cost to educate them.
One way in which the university offsets the difference is through alumni donations, something the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation hopes to inspire by issuing the Leavey Challenge.
The goal of the Leavey Challenge is to encourage and increase undergraduate alumni support through donations that can enhance any part of the undergraduate experience at Santa Clara.
This multiyear challenge begins with the current goal of receiving donations from 10,000 alumni this academic year, boosting the number of participating undergraduate alumni from 20 to 22 percent.
Currently, there are approximately 45,000 undergraduate alumni on record.
The number of alumni added each year grows as graduating class sizes increase.
A new donor record will be set if 10,000 alumni make a gift this year.
The goal for the next four years is to increase alumni participation to 24 percent, then 26 and finally, 28 percent in 2021.
At the end of four years, if alumni meet the increasing participation goals, the Leavey Foundation will donate an additional $3 million, bringing the total amount donated to $4 million.
Alumni participation rates, or the percentage of the alumni that donate, are important as they account for 5 percent of a university’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report.
The multi-year aspect of the challenge is intended to encourage yearly donations and build habits for continuous financial support for Santa Clara.
Individual gifts can be made in any amount and donors can specify a specific program where they would like their gift to go.
Currently, donors are reached through the Student Call Center, mail efforts, reunion giving, social media and the Day of Giving.
However, a former student Call Center employee said that from her experience, young alumni hardly ever donate to the university.
“Recent alumni rarely donate money and it was a waste of time to even give them a call,” said the Call Center employee, a Santa Clara junior who worked there for nine months. “We were often met with hostility from them. I felt that my time was not being valued when I spent hours calling people who would not give a cent.”
The Day of Giving is a 24-hour period in early March where people are encouraged to support the university. Last year, over $3.2 million was raised during the Day of Giving.
Assistant Vice President for Constituent Relations at Santa Clara, Mike Wallace, stresses the importance of giving regardless of the size.
“Gifts of $100 or less add up to approximately $1 million each year,” Wallace said. “Gifts of all sizes truly make a difference for Santa Clara.”
Donations can supplement a department’s budget and provide monetary aid for activities which lacked funds in the past. They can also alleviate a portion of that department’s budget depending on the size of the gift.
Despite the implementation of the Leavey Challenge, current undergraduate students and young alumni are reluctant to give back to Santa Clara.
At the end of the year, graduating seniors as asked to make a contribution to Santa Clara as part of a Senior Gift.
According to Wallace, last year’s Senior Gift totaled in $17,167 from 527 students, or 43.8 percent of the class of 2018.
Senior PJ McCurdy says he does not see himself donating much money to Santa Clara upon graduation.
“I’m still so young and I don’t have enough money to give back as much as I’d like to,” McCurdy said, “I think I would only donate a small amount as a Senior Gift.”
In 2013, a similar challenge was issued by the Leavey Foundation in hopes of increasing alumni participation.
The challenge brought alumni participation from 21 to 25 percent, surpassing the goal of 23 percent alumni participation.
Although the percent of alumni donations has gone down since 2013, it’s possible that the decrease is due in part to the fact that graduating classes are growing every year.
Contact Emma Pollans at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.