New Effort Promotes Annual Donations to SDSU
In the coming months, you will likely hear from either a representative of SDSU’s Annual Fund or receive a communication from the Alumni Association asking for a donation to the university. It’s because now more than ever, the university needs the financial support of its alumni.
The Alumni Association is working to involve all SDSU alumni in The Campaign for SDSU and to help boost the university's increasing national and international prominence.
Stories abound of the continuing cutbacks to higher education by state lawmakers looking for ways to solve California’s ongoing budget crisis. With each reduction, the university is forced to make deeper cuts and place a higher financial burden on its students.
For their part, however, SDSU’s students, faculty and staff are stepping up. Students accepted to the university these days have some of the highest standardized test scores and grade point averages in the institution’s history. Last year SDSU made national news after raising graduation rates faster than any other four-year research university in the country.
As positions are limited or eliminated, faculty and staff take on more responsibility to maintain the quality of the educational experience at SDSU. They have gained San Diego State national and international recognition through their cutting edge research or their leadership and support of successful student academic and athletic endeavors.
AN IMPROVED REPUTATION
With that higher profile has come an improved reputation for SDSU. In its most recent national university rankings released in September, U.S. News & World Report
placed SDSU at 165 on the list. When next year's list comes out, the magazine may move SDSU even higher.
One of the categories used for ranking universities is the alumni giving rate. SDSU is dead last in that category among top tier universities.
The alumni giving rate is figured from the number of alumni who donate to a school compared to the total number of undergraduate degree holders of record. Last year’s ranking included a 2.28% alumni giving rate for SDSU compared to the 2.51% figure submitted this year by the university based on 4,324 alumni donors out of 172,074 degree holders.
“It’s supposed to be an indication of how your alumni feel about the quality of the education that they received and how much of an impact it’s had on their careers and their lives,” says SDSU Alumni Association Executive Director Jim Herrick. “It speaks to what kind of university San Diego State is, at least according to U.S. News & World Report
A RESPONSIBILITY TO A GREAT UNIVERSITY
What the data reveal is that SDSU alumni don’t give back to their alma mater in the same numbers that alumni at higher-ranking schools do. Herrick and the Alumni Association are leading the charge to change that by encouraging all alumni to make a donation of any size every year.
“Being an annual donor is a responsibility that comes with graduating from a truly great university,” Herrick says. “It doesn’t matter how much you give as long as you give something.”
Last year SDSU was listed among U.S. News and World Report's top tier national universities for the first time at number 164 on the list.
He points out that the alumni donor rate is not to be confused with the amount of money given by those who do financially support the university. Alumni and friends who do give money to SDSU give generously. There are many programs, scholarships and buildings on campus standing as testimony to that generosity.
In fact, at the end of the fiscal year in June, The Campaign for SDSU had raised more than $320 million toward its seven-year, $500 million goal. But with all the publicity surrounding the campaign, why are less than three percent of San Diego State alumni contributing?
“They may not think a relatively small contribution makes much of an impact against a half-billion-dollar goal,” Herrick theorizes, “But it does, especially when you’re talking about something as high-profile as being ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s
top tier national universities.
“So all I’m saying is that when the Annual Fund students call, answer. When we contact you, respond.
“You worked hard for your degree and you’re just hurting your own prospects if you don’t help your university,” he says. “The current perceived quality of your degree is based on the perceived quality of SDSU today and in the future, not in the past when you graduated.
“Everyone’s degree is valued in terms of the current reputation and so every alum has a stake in enhancing the current and future reputation of the university. There’s a direct benefit to you in terms of how your degree is perceived.”
In other words, when you’re helping SDSU, you’re helping yourself as well as current students and all Aztec alumni.
Learn more about The Campaign for SDSU.