Insights from a study of 7,000 young alumni also help participating colleges achieve 54 percent growth and 74 percent overall retention among their young alumni donor base.
September 30, 2021—A new report from the Schuler Education Foundation and RNL (Ruffalo Noel Levitz) reveals that 90 percent of young alumni make charitable contributions and that more young alumni made donations during the 2020 pandemic year than the previous year.
The report comes from a study of 7,000 young alumni at five liberal arts colleges and is part of the three-year Schuler Young Alumni Engagement Initiative that was conducted in partnership with RNL. In addition to finding that the vast majority of young alumni are philanthropic, the research also highlights what inspires them to give to their alma maters. Nearly 70 percent of young alumni say that the desire to make a difference in the lives of current students is their top motivator for giving to higher education—and 95 percent say it is important to see evidence of the impact of their gifts. Their experience as students is also critical to giving, as those who have higher rates of satisfaction with their college experience are four times more likely to give to their alma maters.
“In the three years we have conducted this research, we have seen a critical shift from young alumni giving out of gratitude to giving for impact,” said Jason Patenaude, COO and executive director of the Schuler Education Foundation. “At the beginning, most young alumni said they gave out of a sense of gratitude to their alma mater. But in this most recent research, seven out of ten say they give to support current students.”
First-generation and alumni of color also show more interest in giving back to their alma maters compared to non-alumni of color or those who were not first-generation college students—countering a misconception in higher education giving.
The five participating colleges in the Schuler Young Alumni Engagement Initiative—Bates, Carleton, Middlebury, Wellesley, and Williams—have already used the research to guide their own young alumni giving efforts, increasing their donor base by 54 percent and achieving 74 percent retention among their young alumni.
“These findings show great opportunities for colleges and universities to engage their young alumni and tap into their strong philanthropic spirit,” said Sarah Kleeberger, RNL senior vice president for fundraising strategy. “By authentically connecting with recent graduates and showing the impact of their gifts, institutions can cultivate a new generation of donors who are engaged and give back to their alma maters.”
The findings are detailed in the 2021 Young Alumni Engagement and Philanthropy Report, available at RuffaloNL.com/YoungAlumni2021.
About the Schuler Education Foundation
The Schuler Education Foundation seeks to further the success of individuals and communities by investing in high-achieving underrepresented students and top-tier liberal arts colleges. The Schuler Education Foundation currently supports the Schuler Scholar Program, the Schuler Initiative, and the Schuler Access Initiative. Learn more at SchulerEducationFoundation.org.
RNL (Ruffalo Noel Levitz) is the leading provider of higher education enrollment, student success, and fundraising solutions. The firm serves more than 1,900 colleges and universities through tech-enabled solutions, actionable analytics, and strategic guidance focused on the entire lifecycle of enrollment and fundraising, assuring students find the right program, graduate on time, secure their first job in their chosen field, and give back to support the next generation. With a deep knowledge of the industry, RNL provides institutions the ability to scale their efforts by tapping into a community of support and resources. Learn more at RuffaloNL.com.