Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Alumni giving

Today's Straits Times reported:

AN APPEAL to National University of Singapore (NUS) alumni for funds to help its needy students has fallen on deaf ears.

Only 1,452 alumni, or one in 100 graduates, responded to the university's first call for donations last year.

The amount raised - $966,709 - fell far short of the more than $2 million the university wanted, to fund bursaries for an estimated 1,500 undergraduates.

Not surprising, given the fact that (local undergraduate) students are given the short shrift during their 3 or 4 year stay in the university. If you treat them like dirt, do you think they will care about you once they graduate?

Rehashing an old issue - the same thing was also raised last year. Perhaps they have run out of news to report; now is the time to scold Singaporeans for being ingrates?

The picture ST painted of US universities' alumni giving is skewed anyway, especially with many of the top schools now launching multi-billion dollar fund raising campaigns.

A longstanding reality of fund raising has been the idea that 80 percent of funds come from the wealthiest 20 percent of donors. Over the last decade, more fund raisers have talked about 90 percent of the funds coming from the wealthiest 10 percent of donors. With these mega-campaigns, and in fund raising generally, the ratios may be changing again.

“We just did a study of 27 universities, and I think we are moving to 97 percent coming from 1 or 2 percent of donors,” said Jerold Panas, a fund-raising consultant and author of Mega Gifts: Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them.

So, NUS' figures may be just about right if they are benchmarking themselves against their American counterparts.


Elia Diodati said...

This reminds me of all-too-common episodes at Chinese restaurants here in the US, where the proprietor is likely to run after you and scold you if you forgot to tip them, or (worse yet!) complain loudly that the tip isn't big enough.

They sure came off sounding like ingrates here. If donations come from altruistic motives, then they really shouldn just accept what they receive, not gripe about how it's not enough.

The other thing, of course, is that the 1-2% of donors in the US are often millionaires or even billionaires. I just don't see NUS alums blowing $32m at once like Thomas Siebel, to cite just one example.

Darth Solarion said...

Does anyone have any more to give in the first place? Most of my friends I talk to hardly relate to the school, but just identify themselves with the friends they have had.

Otherwise, who is going to care about a school that hardly has any kind of school spirit to begin with?

Fox said...

I'm sure there are very well-off NUS alumni because NUS runs the only medical school and used to run the only law school in Singapore. Considering the numerous examples of unnecessary extravagance that I saw in NUS during my undergrad days, I am not convinced that the university needs money.

ivan said...

i figured you'd have something to say about this lol.

just to add oil to fire...

the fund only aids 1.5k students. the other? hard luck... since NUS and the nation believes you've got to help yourself out (80% study loan).

Personally, i know all too many who worked their way through NUS, not only paying for their own studies and living expenses but contributing to the household.

given this factual scenario, who could blame the alumni for not the helping the sch that taught them to help themselves and not rely on handouts.

takchek said...

i figured you'd have something to say about this lol.

Well, the title of my blog says it all, doesn't it? :)

L'oiseau rebelle said...

I was talking to an alumus of my alma mater who greatly benefited from attending said university (at a time when the out-of-state fees were extremely affordable). He has a very successful career and has donated a lot back to the school, and even served on advisory boards for the school.

He suggested that if I wanted to donate back to the school now, 5 or 10 bucks is quite fine. The school understands that I'm not exactly rolling in money now.

Actually, even though I (or rather, my folks) paid the sticker price for my education, the university, and especially my department, has given me invaluable experiences and opportunities, which I'm grateful for. Maybe I'll be writing ten-dollar checks soon.

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

Not sure if NTU has the same problem with their own alumni donors. I'd wager they are not rolling in the donation dollars from working joes who graduated from NTU.

But NTU was smart, they were willing to change the name of NTU from 南洋理工大学 (nan yang li gong da xue) to 南大 (nantah) to appease the older nantah alumni who had gone on to become successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. This, to reverse the ignominy suffered by many of these nantah graduates by the marginalisation of chinese educated graduates from the university.

This, for the donation dollar$.

Uniquely Singapore!