Every Donation Counts for Capital Campaign
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 22:04
Seniors reading this are just weeks away from leaving the Hilltop, heading off to new volunteer and job opportunities, beginning advanced studies or spending time with friends and family while exploring the next steps in life after college. I heartily congratulate you.
At some point after commencement, you’ll get a phone call or a letter in the mail asking you to give back to Georgetown.
We understand that a Georgetown education is expensive and many students and their families make sacrifices to attend this university. We understand that many new graduates are saddled with student debt and that the economy is still recovering. I remember what it was like being a struggling college student myself, working my way through Georgetown as a busboy, waiter and bartender.
But please don’t think it’s callous of us to ask. We have no other way of knowing who can give. It’s our job to harness the incredible passion we all have for Georgetown, and it starts with our phone calls. It starts with people giving whatever they can, whenever they can. Robert McDonough, for whom Georgetown’s School of Business is named, started out giving $5 and $10 gifts to Georgetown shortly after he graduated in 1949. A half-century later, he gave $30 million to the business school. At the time, it was the largest gift in the university’s history.
Every gift matters, whatever its size. What matters most for the university’s future is that you give at all. Last year, 70 percent of the gifts made to the Georgetown Fund were under $200. Those gifts add up. This year, philanthropy will fund more than 900 undergraduate scholarships, keeping the doors of opportunity open to the most deserving students, no matter what their means.
Our current capital campaign, “For Generations to Come”, has two important goals. One is to raise $1.5 billion so we can put Georgetown on a trajectory to keep up with great global universities. The second is to grow our alumni giving participation rate.
U.S. News & World Report uses alumni giving as a barometer of alumni satisfaction in calculating rankings. We know from alumni surveys that 89 percent of undergraduate alumni say that Georgetown had a profound impact on their lives, but only about 27 percent currently give back. We want to raise that figure to 40 percent by 2020, bringing Georgetown in line with Harvard, Yale, Brown, Penn, Duke and other schools with which we compete academically. We don’t think they can do anything we can’t do.
Growing the donor base won’t make a big difference in the dollar total of this campaign — new donors tend to make small gifts — but we’re taking the long view and paving the way for future campaigns. That’s one of many reasons why we call this campaign “For Generations to Come”.
Great schools are built on great philanthropy. But great philanthropy isn’t built by swooping in decades after graduation, asking an alum who has made a fortune for a spare million or two. Fundraising is all about relationships, and it’s our responsibility to make the case that we will use your gift, no matter how large or small, to build a better Georgetown. We are as profoundly grateful for a $20 check from a new graduate as we are for that multimillion-dollar gift that names a building or endows a scholarship.
At Georgetown, we are taught to be women and men for others. Service takes many forms, but it is a privilege, not a sacrifice. While giving to your alma mater is a personal matter, we request only this: If you feel that Georgetown has changed you, given you something special, made you a better person, that you give back by giving what you can, when you can, and in so doing help the next generation of Georgetown students.
William Doyle graduated from the College in 1972. He is the campaign chair of For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown.