Seniors clinked plastic champagne glasses in the lobby of Magill Library Thursday night to kick off the Senior Class Gift, an annual drive encouraging graduating students to contribute to the College and help boost its ranking.
“The point is to get people to get in the habit of giving back to Haverford and get students educated about what the Annual Fund is,” said committee co-chair Allie Kandel ’14.”Just about every single student on this campus has benefited from the annual fund whether they realize it or not.”
The Annual Fund finances a small percentage of the College’s yearly operating budget. While tuition and some endowment funds provide most of the funding for the operating budget, at least 7 percent came from the Annual Fund in 2013-2014.
Funds are spent in the current fiscal year, meaning every cent donated to the Senior Class Gift — and the Annual Fund — will be used before the start of July.
“This year our goal is 75 percent participation. If that happens, Dan Weiss, who is the senior class gift challenger, will donate $5,000,” Kandel said.
Weiss’s gift will also be matched by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, an organization which supports European art and architecture. Because Weiss is a trustee, all his charitable donations are matched by the Kress Foundation.
Weiss will donate $1,000 for 50 percent, $2,500 for 60 percent and $5,000 for 75 percent participation.
According to Drew Webb, the Jill Sherman Fellow for Leadership in Advancement who is in charge of the drive, giving to the senior gift typically lands between 60 to 70 percent, with the highest participation rate at 81 percent in 2012.
Incentives for donating range from a Haverford pint glass, for a $5 donation, to membership in the 1833 Society, which rewards Annual Fund donors with “unique benefits” throughout the year.
While donations to the Senior Class Gift do go toward the annual operating budget, the purpose of the Senior Gift drive is not necessarily to raise money. Putting on events and providing incentives for students to donate can be costly – the free champagne kick-off event cost $2,000 to Institutional Advancement’s budget. At least five other senior events are planned for this year.
Webb says the College recognizes that current seniors and recent graduates are often unable to donate a lot of money, and that the purpose of the drive is to get students in the habit of donating.
Moreover, alumni giving rates are often used to measure student satisfaction, which impact an institution’s rankings. Alumni giving counts toward 5% of Haverford’s score for the U.S. News and World Report Best College’s ranking.
At last Thursday’s reception, Weiss said giving to the Senior Gift was a way for students to “express in real terms what this institution means to you,” Weiss said. “Whatever it is that you can give is fine – anything counts.”
Students can donate online with a credit card or using their Haverford Book Store account.
“Whether or not you graduate from here thinking this is the greatest place or you spent the four worst years of your life here…I think it’s important to recognize the quality of education we’re receiving and pay it forward for future generations,” said Kandel.