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Alumna says Fundraising Comparisons are Flawed; ‘Facts’ not Always Facts

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank The Weekly for publishing the article about the discussions between the Alumnae Association and the College in the February 17, 2005 issue.

However, I would like to comment on a few statements in the article. First, are the comments that “alumnae fundraising was not equal to that of the College,” and that “the Alumnae Annual Fund continues to be out of step with the momentum generated by the success of the College’s capital campaign.” A loyal AAMC volunteer and donor, Leah Mac Neil, MA ’51, recently wrote, “We are all very impressed by the total raised in the Sesquicentennial Campaign. I do think it is misleading to state that the campaign was tremendously successful because the actual total was achieved in postponing the date of the end of the campaign (by two years). This is a luxury which the Alumnae Fund does not enjoy since the final date of the total each year does coincide with the end of the fiscal year.” I am reminded of the maxim that if you say something is true often enough, people will begin to believe it is true. The Sesquicentennial Campaign was scheduled to end in the College’s Sesquicentennial year, the 2002-2003 academic year. At that time, it was stalled, due in part to the economy and the activities that were being pursued, or rather not pursued, and the decision was made extend the Campaign until the goal was reached.

Second, I would like to point out that there is documented research that Annual Funds (the kind of fundraising done by the AAMC, which is approaching a large number of people for lower dollar amounts) are more greatly impacted by the economy that Major Gifts (the kind of fundraising done by the College, which is approaching a small number of people for higher dollar amounts.) It is also documented that Annual Funds almost always decrease during the end of an institution’s Capital Campaign, in part because donors are contributing to the Campaign.

Finally, it should be noted that for the first time the College did its own Annual Fund mailing this past fall that was mailed just a few weeks before the AAMC’s regularly scheduled direct mail campaign. This mailing had a dramatic and negative impact on our fundraising results this year to date. (Part of the gentlewoman’s agreement we have had with the College is that the AAMC does annual direct mail, class agent, phonathon, etc. fundraising and that we do not ask donors for major gifts. The converse has also been true: the College asks donors for major gifts and has not done annual direct mail, class agent, phonathon, etc. fundraising- until this point.)

I think it is important for us all to recognize that “facts” are not always really facts.


Anne Gillespie Brown, ‘68