Contrary to the nationwide trend of declining donations from recent graduates, Georgetown University has seen increased participation from young alumni, allowing the university to sustain its master planning projects.

The Chronicle for Higher Education reported earlier this month that a study of donors found that fewer than half of millennial alumni had ever given back to their university, with 75 percent stating that they would give to another organization before their alma mater.

Vanessa Otarola Kehoe (NHS ’08), senior director of Class Programs and Reunion Campaigns at the Office of Advancement, found the findings of the study odd.

“With our young alumni, we have actually seen a different trend,” Kehoe wrote in an email.

At Georgetown, 33 percent of alumni who had graduated in the past five years donated to the University in 2014 alone, an increase from 26 percent in 2010. Additionally, the rate of young alumni donations was the same as for the general alumni population, 33 percent of whom also donated in 2014.

Kehoe explained that each class has a committee in charge of keeping alumni connected within the class and with the university, which she credited with the improved rates.

“In the past few years, committee members have directly asked their classmates to donate to Georgetown, which has been incredibly impactful,” she wrote. “Furthermore, the Office of Advancement has gotten more creative with giving communications (and e-communications) and has been improving the online giving experience in an attempt to make giving easier and faster.”

Tyler Newhall (COL ’15), last year’s president of the 1634 Society, which focuses on promoting alumni giving and fostering connections between students and graduates, also pointed to efforts aimed at encouraging students to give back during their time at Georgetown. He cited the annual marquee event, the One for Georgetown campaign, during which the 1634 Society aims to see a $1 donation from 50 percent of the freshman class.

“The one dollar is really a symbolic thing. … But the idea is, we want to get people into the spirit of saying, ‘I want to give back to Georgetown,’ even if it’s a small amount,” Newhall said.

Georgetown announced earlier this year that it had raised $1.2 billion as part of its 10-year For Generations to Come campaign, which has a goal of $1.5 billion to fund scholarships and construction projects across the university. The campaign is expected to run until July 2016.

Newhall emphasized the importance of donations in contributing to the future of the university for alumni.

“There’s so much construction and master planning going on, it’s important to plan for the future. That means … making sure the Georgetown experience, making sure our degree means as much as, if not more than, what it did when we graduated,” he said.

Though the construction projects scattered across campus require significant funding, Kehoe noted that recent alumni tend to prioritize scholarship programs over construction projects, as 65 percent of young graduates gave to scholarship programs last year.

“Young alumni seem to be more interested in supporting scholarship, and we always encourage alumni to donate where their hearts leads them,” Kehoe wrote.

Even with the positive trend at Georgetown, the Chronicle pointed to the significant burden of student loans, which affect 37 percent of households headed by individuals under 40, as limiting donations.

Acknowledging the difficult economic situation, Newhall encouraged alumni to give back in other ways than financial donations.

“The 1634 Society is not a fundraising group. Even the money we collect is more of a symbolic thing. We deal more in getting alumni and current students to give back in other ways, giving their time, giving their experience to students,” he said. “[That is] one thing that we really like to stress, coming back and giving whatever you can, whether that’s time, whether that’s sharing your wealth of experience.”

Hannah Merrill (COL ’18) agreed with Newhall, seeing donations as a chance to give back.

“I would want to give back to the university because I think that would be my way of helping them improve their educational facilities that gave me a lot while I was here,” she said.

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