Dear Fellow Alumni,
I’m going to tell you something I’m pretty sure you don’t know. But brace yourself. It’s sort of embarrassing: USD’s alumni giving rate is only 13 percent, which puts us far below many of our peers. How far? Well, 20 percent of alumni at Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara and Gonzaga give back to their alma maters. And when you look at our aspirational peers — schools like College of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame and USC — we are lagging far behind. Holy Cross’ alumni participation is over 50 percent. At 41 percent, Notre Dame is closing in. An impressive 32 percent of USC graduates donate to their school.
If you think none of this has anything to do with you, think again. Each year college rankings appear in U.S. News & World Report, based on multiple factors. And guess what? The only indicator the publication uses for alumni satisfaction is the annual alumni giving rate. So, the editors there assume that only 13 percent of USD alumni are satisfied with their alma mater. We know for a fact that this simply isn’t true! Results from our recent Alumni Attitude Survey showed that 93 percent of respondents currently have a favorable opinion of the university, and 95 percent rate their decision to attend USD as either “good” or “great.”
Clearly there is a real and increasing value in holding a degree from the University of San Diego. But the value of that degree increases — or decreases — with USD’s rankings, and rankings are affected by our giving rate. In fact, the giving rate even affects the university’s ability to obtain grants. Did you know that one of the first questions corporations and foundations ask is, “What is the university’s alumni giving rate?” Why? Because if USD’s own graduates support the university, other benefactors are more inclined to follow suit.
So I’ve begun to ask my fellow alumni directly, “Why don’t you give back to USD?” Some tell me that gifts just go to campus landscaping and gardeners. That, of course, is false. Less than 1 percent of USD’s budget goes to grounds keeping. In fact, over 90 percent of alumni contributions are allocated specifically to student and academic support. Alumni giving helps our students, helps athletics, helps academics, and much more. And yes, perhaps it even helps a flower or two.
Other alumni tell me they are just not in a position to give. Perhaps they’re still paying off a student loan or getting established in their careers. Some people say that if they’re not in a position to donate enough to have a building named after them, what’s the point? But 91 percent of donations made by USD alumni every year are less than $250. And when it comes to those who are still carrying debt, it’s more than likely that their own student experience was funded in part by the generosity of others who came before them, many of whom were also on scholarships funded by alumni. And so it goes. Alumni helping students who, in time, will return the favor as alumni themselves.
So, to put it plainly: USD needs your help in raising the alumni participation rate and in supporting the very student experience that you enjoyed. And any contribution, in any amount, will raise our alumni giving rate.
The university has more than 50,000 alumni. If each one contributed merely $25 a year, that would add up to $1.25 million to use for programs, athletics, academics and operations. If each alumnus and alumna gave as much as $5 a month, we would provide an astounding $3 million a year for our students!
Please make your gift today. We need all of our alumni giving every year, regardless of each gift’s size. Come on, Toreros! Don’t we want our alumni giving rate to be higher than Gonzaga’s? Don’t we think we deserve to be ranked above Santa Clara?
As alumni, we must stand up for the continuing success of our university. It’s up to us to build a culture of giving back. The result will be self-evident: USD envisions “limitless possibilities for our students, society and the world.”
Can we count on you to help?
— Maureen Gavron Partynski ’82
Alumni Association Board President
Proud parent of two current USD students