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Young Alumni feel they have already given enough

By Daniel de Vise/Washingtonpost.com

Young alumni of the nation’s top universities are not particularly interested in opening their checkbooks for their alma mater, according to a new survey.

Interviews with alumni from the nation’s top 100 universities, as defined by the U.S. News & World Report rankings, found that eight in 10 young alumni — those under 35 — feel they have already given enough in tuition payments and don’t see the need for further donations.

Half of the young alumni believe their school doesn’t especially need the money. Nearly half say their alma mater hasn’t made enough of an effort to “connect with them” apart from asking for money, according to a release.

The survey was released Monday by Engagement Strategies Group, a research and consulting firm based in the District of Columbia.

Colleges, for their part, have spared no effort in connecting with alumni in the downturn, which sapped the average endowment by nearly one-fifth.

The findings show “the challenges that many top colleges and universities face in making a credible fundraising case to their young alumni,” said Cindy Cox Roman, a co-founder of the consultancy, in the release.

Nearly half of alumni under 35 feel they are “strongly connected” to their college, but the number dips below one-third for alumni over 35.

Half of alumni ages 50 to 64 say they lack a “deep and emotional connection to the school” as a reason for not giving.

This is the firm’s first “Mood of Alumni” survey and is based on interviews with a sampling of 700 alumni, conducted in February and March.

Charitable giving to education at all levels dropped 3.6 percent to $40 billion in 2009, according to the annual Giving USA, as reported in June in Inside Higher Ed. According to their report, “Over the last two years, giving to education has dropped by nearly 12 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars,” mirroring a broader downward trend in philanthropy.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  July 19, 2010; 11:21 AM ET


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