Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Participation Matters

  • News Image

Class of 2014 breaks giving participation record.

At their Commencement Convocation, the class of 2014 presented to Southwestern a senior gift of $51,325.95, including contributions from both students and their parents. Seventy-eight percent of graduating seniors participated, raising $4,474.52. That is an average gift of $18.72 per student.

Although we regularly hear that every gift matters—and the 2014 senior gift indicates that the phrase rings true—we often still wonder, “Does it, really?” Melissa Miller ’04, director of university relations–gift programs, says, “Yes, whatever amount people give does make a difference.” During the 2013-2014 academic year, 2,440 donors made gifts of less than $150 each, totaling more than $116,000. The combined impact of all gifts is incredible.

Still unsure? It is helpful for alumni to know that some college ranking services use alumni participation as their gauge for alumni satisfaction. We know through years of post-graduate surveys that our alumni are very satisfied with their Southwestern Experience. The only way to demonstrate this satisfaction to the ranking agencies is to show that a significant number of our alumni make gifts (of any size) annually. Southwestern’s current alumni participation rate (22 percent) is well below the alumni participation rates of the colleges with whom we compare ourselves. (See chart.)

Alumni participation also helps to leverage support from some foundations, corporations and other potential donors. Some of these funding sources are willing to invest in colleges and organizations that demonstrate support from those who are closest to the organization. Trustee, alumni and parent participation rates are used to show this support.

According to Miller, the biggest reason participation (through giving) is important is that it “shows a sense of school pride and satisfaction. If we valued our time here, what better way to express our appreciation than to give back by volunteering to serve, referring future students, attending events and making an annual gift?”

Many of Miller’s fellow alumni, as well as faculty, staff and parents, agree and have expressed their satisfaction and gratitude by making gifts to the University.

“Most valuable years of my life, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.” - William Allen Harbaugh III ’73

“I loved Southwestern but it was not until I went elsewhere for grad school that I realized just how special SU was—the teachers cared, the classes were small but effective, I had to study like crazy but I learned a lot.” - Destiny Traphofner Cromer ’99

“I choose to support Southwestern University because I believe in reaping what you sow. SU has given me so much!” - Jasmine Thomas ’12