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TCU 360

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Campaign to boost alumni donations

The Horned Frogs plan to beat the Rice Owls in collecting monetary gifts from alumni.

But the Frogs have a long way to go.

TCU’s alumni-giving rate — the percentage of graduates who make donations — was 30 percent in fiscal year 2003, compared with Rice University’s average rate of 35 percent, the highest in Texas, according to TCU advancement officials.

However, a new giving campaign to be launched in March, called “Give Every Year. It’s What Horned Frogs Do,” is designed to stimulate giving and curb Rice’s lead, said Bronson Davis, vice chancellor for University Advancement.

The campaign, designed by University Advancement, will include spotlighting donors in the TCU Magazine and in the alumni e-newsletter, Davis said. Direct mail and e-mails to current students and alumni will explain why the university believes alumni participation is important. A movie to be shown at orientation and Frog Camp will also be created, but it won’t be ready this summer, Advancement Officer Cindy Hayes said.

The ultimate goal of the campaign is to surpass Rice in alumni-giving and achieve the highest giving rate in Texas, Davis said, but this will not happen overnight.

The campaign will start small by increasing alumni-giving from 30 percent to 31 percent by May 31, the last day of the fiscal year, Hayes said.

Hayes said this goal probably won’t be met because the university is currently at a 20.7 percent alumni-giving rate, which is behind the February target of 23 percent. To stay on track, the university needs 800 donors by the end of the month.

According to data found in the 2004 Operational Report written by University Advancement, the alumni-giving rate had been growing at an average rate of 1 percent a year since 1994, but stopped growing after 2001, when it fell from 31 percent to 30 percent. The rate has stayed at 30 percent since 2002.

University Advancement officials want to improve the alumni-giving rate for two main reasons: Increase the annual fund and improve the university’s media ranking, Hayes said.

First, the money raised is donated to the annual fund, which supports scholarships, research, equipment, faculty salaries and the library.

“It’s important to give so future students will receive the same support students receive today,” Hayes said. “Giving adds value to your degree. You don’t want your school to go down the tube after graduation.”

Second, U.S. News & World Report uses the alumni-giving rate along with peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and graduation rate performance to determine overall college rankings.

According to the Sept. 1, 2003, “America’s Best Colleges” issue, scores for each measure of academic quality are weighted to determine the final overall score. Alumni- giving has a 5 percent weight.

The issue ranked TCU in 99th place nationally, tied with seven other universities.
According to the report, TCU had a 28 percent alumni-giving rate, which doesn’t match up with the 30 percent rate listed in TCU’s Operational Report.

Hayes said the Operational Report is correct and U.S. News & World Report could have used old numbers.

TCU was ahead in alumni-giving when compared with the other universities that tied for 99th place, with the lowest giving rate of 6 percent belonging to Loyola University Chicago and the second-highest rate of 23 percent belonging to the University of Alabama.

Although those in the academic community view the media rankings with skepticism, rankings have a significant impact on prospective students when deciding where to attend college, Hayes said.

If TCU becomes the No. 1 university for alumni-giving in Texas, then its national ranking will improve, Davis said.

“People will feel good when they lead the state in alumni satisfaction rating,” Davis said. “It’s like a football game. Everyone wants to be associated with the winning team.”

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