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Record number of ND alums donate money

Amanda Michaels | Thursday, September 14, 2006

If the screaming blue-and-gold thousands who pack into Notre Dame Stadium aren’t enough to prove that loyalty to the University lasts far longer than four years, the latest alumni giving rate certainly is.

During the 2005-06 fiscal year, 53.2 percent of Notre Dame alumni gave some sort of monetary donation to the University – setting an all-time record for the school, said Lou Nanni, vice president of University Relations.

The previous record was set in 1994, when an even 53 percent of former undergraduates gave back.

“The number is less indicative of the efforts of the [Department of Development] and more a sign of how impacted alumni are during their time as students,” Nanni said. “They feel loyalty and give back to support the mission of Notre Dame.”

Notre Dame has consistently been ranked in the top three in the nation for its alumni giving rate, along with Princeton University and Dartmouth College.

Nanni said 53.2 percent should put the University “squarely in second place, behind Princeton.”

“Many of the top universities in the country, the Harvards, Yales, Stanfords, their schools average between 35 and 40 percent [alumni giving], so we’re significantly ahead of most of the elite schools,” he said.

The US News & World Report factors an institution’s alumni giving rate into the equation that produces its yearly rankings, which placed Notre Dame as the 20th top national university for 2007. According to USNews.com, “the percent of alumni giving serves as a proxy for how satisfied students are with the school.”

Though the total dollar amount of alumni monetary donation was not available, Nanni said the University did receive approximately $181 million in cash receipts last year. That amount includes not only donations from alumni but also from parents of students and “friends” of the University – people not directly affiliated with the school that donate.

Of that number, more than $25 million came in the form of unrestricted giving – another all-time University record. Unrestricted gifts are those that can be directed to whatever the greatest needs are for the given year and typically come in the form of smaller donations, Nanni said.

The rest of the money has a purpose designated by the donors, with a great deal of it going toward undergraduate financial aid, Nanni said.

It also is funneled into areas like endowed chairs, endowments for excellence for specific departments and capital projects for undertakings like the construction of the Jordan Hall of Science and, in the future, the Law School and the engineering building projects.

Nanni said the Department of Development reaches out to the University’s approximately 115,000 alumni through several mailings a year, personal calls and pledge calls from students, who logged around $2 million in pledges last year.

Based on the response rate from these methods, as well as the number of donations, the breakdown of who the money is coming from and University priorities, the Department of Development sets goals for the upcoming fiscal year, Nanni said.

With a banner year of giving behind it, the University will continue to look toward alumni and other donors to support its ongoing projects and future endeavors to improve the school.

“It’s no surprise that we get such a strong response [from alumni],” Nanni said. “We leave an indelible impression on students, who, when they leave, want to turn around help out other students.”