| posted by Joe Hice |

Alumni giving at Trinity College explodes, powered by matching gift challenge

By AMANDA FALCONE, afalcone@courant.com

About a year ago, an anonymous donor offered Trinity College in Connecticut a $5 million endowment — with a catch.

To get the money, the college had to achieve a gift participation rate of at least 55 percent among its 20,000 living alumni.

After a yearlong campaign, Trinity is celebrating. More than 11,000, or 55.34 percent, of the college’s alumni donated money last fiscal year, helping the school secure the challenge endowment and achieve a record $9 million in gifts for its annual fund. It was the largest number of alumni donors in the school’s 187-year history.

The alumni gift participation rate was 47.41 percent in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The endowment will help eight to 10 more students get financial aid from Trinity, said Ron Joyce, Trinity’s vice president for college advancement. For those who qualify, the average financial aid package is $30,000 per student each year, Joyce said, explaining that Trinity’s tuition, and room and board fees total about $50,000 per year.

“This is one of the gifts that keeps on giving,” he said.

To help meet its goal, Trinity enlisted the help of more than 400 volunteers. Volunteers like Alexis B. Morledge, of Long Island, made phone calls, sent out e-mails and met with potential donors. Morledge, a 1990 Trinity graduate, is associate director of advancement and director of alumni relations at The Green Vale School in New York, and she said she used her professional skills and her college reunion to solicit donations.

Joyce said that while many alumni donate regularly to Trinity, hundreds of alumni involved in last fiscal year’s campaign had never given in the past. Trinity was able to increase its gift participation rate at a time when alumni participation is declining at schools across the country, he said.

In total, Trinity brought in more than $28 million last fiscal year from all alumni, friends and organizations.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

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