Participation Rate – What it is and Why it Matters

In nearly every modern higher education fundraising campaign, you’ll find the words participation rate. You’ll probably also find a brief explanation: “Percentage of alumni who gave in the past year.” Those nine words understate the importance of the participation rate.

Alumni participation is of critical importance, particularly among private institutions of higher learning. Foundations and federal grants often examine the participation rate because it shows constituent buy-in – how many graduates are still connected and concerned about their alma mater? Foundations and grants, like many non-charitable enterprises, seek to make every dollar count.

The best return on investment, it follows, come from a gift to an institution with high participation. The gift has a greater impact, as more people are concerned. It also furthers the philanthropic goal – people see the influx of capital as an endorsement – an institution that must be doing the right thing. This creates further support in the community – people want to be associated with an institution that is doing good work.

Participation is important – and it can be earned with minimal effort. Every gift from each alumnus, no matter the size, adds to the participation rate. There is no de minimis exception – every dollar counts. If you are a Union College alumnus, you can give online by clicking here. If you are a University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law alumnus, you can give online by clicking here.


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