The College of William and Mary’s Board of Visitors left Thursday afternoon’s session on Development and Alumni Affairs with one message: Donations to the College are strong, but need to be stronger.
“If we can’t deliver annual giving dollars, we will starve to death,” College President Taylor Reveley said. “We can raise tuition, and [consider] the endowment, but in the short term, we have to deliver annual giving.”
Sean Pieri, vice president of the Development Committee, championed a similar message throughout his presentation to the BOV.
Pieri stated that total donations were $43.2 million for the fiscal year ending July 1.
This number falls short of last year’s mark of $50.8 million, but still ranks as one of the top-five years in the College’s history.
Additionally, the two periods combined to represent the largest consecutive years in collections in the College’s history.
“Of our peer group members, we are the only institution with an increase in number of alumni donors [over the last two fiscal years],” Pieri said.
He added that the College is behind last year’s mark for percent of donors.
The College received donations from 23 percent of its alumni base in the last fiscal year, at least 5 percent higher than the average public school mark. The College is behind the private school figure of 28 percent. The 23 percent benchmark is above the figures for the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina.
College President Taylor Reveley expressed his approval of the College’s percent of donors, but added his desire to be better than private institutions as well.
“We are better than other publics,” Reveley said. “But what we want is to be better than the privates. When we talk to other public schools they say, ‘What are you complaining about?’ But I want to compare us to privates, which will go unnamed.”
Board member Jeffrey Trammell ’73 added to Reveley’s remarks, stating that the College’s students and faculty perform at Ivy League standards, but that its alumni fail to perform at the same level of excellence.
Of the $43.2 million collected in the last fiscal year, 46 percent went into expenditures, 33 percent was moved to the endowment, 16 percent was part of capital projects and 5 percent was gift-in-kind donations.
Donations are divided into three areas: acquisition of a new donor, retention of a donor and upgrading of a donor’s monetary amount from the previous year.
Pieri said the retention level for consecutive-year donations to the College is 63 percent of donors. In the past five years, 49 percent of living alumni donated.
Overall, the alumni participation rate is within 2 percent of the College’s peer group average for all decades of living graduates since the 1920s, except those graduating after 2000.
Pieri listed the peer institutions in his report as Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rice, Southern Methodist, Syracuse, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Vanderbilt.
The meeting went into a closed session to discuss future fundraising initiatives.