To Our Readers: The Truth Behind The NumbersAs a former high school math teacher, I know that numbers can be misleading.
Case in point: When we report that SMU’s Second Century Campaign is attracting numerous gifts in the neighborhood of $1 million, and has thus far raised $874 million, it’s difficult for some to feel that there is room for them in the University’s community of givers. They might assume that only large gifts are needed and appreciated. But that would be a wrong conclusion.
That’s because there is another number that is vitally important to the success of the campaign – 25 percent. That’s the percentage of alumni we need to become donors each and every year, no matter what the size of their gifts. Those gifts make a difference in their own right and often inspire others to make the major commitments that we often hear about. After all, the percentage of alumni giving reflects the level of graduates’ satisfaction with the education they received, a factor that some foundations and individual donors consider in making future gifts.
There is another number that is vitally important to the success of the campaign – 25 percent. That’s the percentage of alumni we need to become donors each and every year.
In the past few years, SMU has reached a little over 24 percent in alumni giving annually, but we’ve not been able to achieve 25 percent. Instead, we should be in the company of institutions like Duke, with 36 percent; Brown with 38 and Notre Dame with 41. These numbers also count when national ranking organizations evaluate institutional quality.
Soon, we will add up the number of alumni donors during the fiscal year ending May 31, 2014. Then, on June 1, 2014, we will start the count again, from zero, aiming for 25 percent. And when we arrive at May 31, 2015, we hope to have broken the barrier, not only reaching, but also exceeding, 25 percent, setting a tradition of alumni giving each and every year thereafter.
Help us do the math and come up with the right answer for SMU.
R. Gerald Turner