Thursday, May 31, 2012

Donation dilemma: to give or not to give?

May 31 marks the end of Boston College's fiscal year. If you are on BC's email list or follow BC on Facebook, I am sure you've received plenty of reminders that today is the last day to donate for the 2011-2012 school year. I don't know how far off BC is from its goal, but I know anecdotally that gifts to the Flynn Fund are down. There are always multiple factors in the decision to give to a charity, but fans and alumni unhappiness with BC athletics is having a negative affect on the Flynn Fund drive. I hate telling people how to spend their money, but I do have as suggestions for past Flynn Fund donors who are not giving this year.


1. Give to the General Fund.

BC's needs our gifts to continue its mission. The general fund covers a variety of areas. This money could trickle back to sports, but the purpose of the General fund is for BC to use the money as it sees fit. Plus even a small gift to the General fund helps the school's rankings and keeps you on the donor list.

2. Give to a named Athletic Scholarship or endowed position.

This way you can give to BC sports but not support the area of the Athletic Department that has upset you. Like the suggestion 1, this can still indirectly support the Flynn Fund, since the money from your gift rolls into the same budget as the Flynn Fund. But the intent is still there.

3. Give a conditional gift.

If you want Spaz gone or Gene gone or something else done, give BC a conditional gift. Say "I will give $XXX when Spaz steps down..." etc. BC is likely to reject this offer, but your point will be made. If enough former givers promise conditional gifts it swill send a message beyond the Athletic Department.

In full disclosure, my wife and I gave to the BC Fund in December. The size of our gift varies from year to year, but we do feel it is important to give to BC consistently.

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19 Comments:

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I took a suggestion off another board. I gave some money to my school. And $1 to Other - "Fire Gene DeFillip."

Wonder where that gets allocated?

 
At 6:41 PM, Blogger BCMike said...

Exactly right, Mike. If you completely abstain from giving it hurts the school's ranking. Metric is on % of alumni who donate; not how much. $1 is as good as $1M as far as USNEWS is concerned.

 
At 8:07 PM, Blogger William said...

Apparently Gene is counting the $5 MM gift to the hockey HC position in the annual FF contribution, I can only imagine how down the donations would be if he didn't...

-Claver2010

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

There are literally thousands of other worthwhile organizations that could use our money more than BC. A > $1B endowment should essentially sustain itself.

I gave my annual $5 donation for US News purposes, but anything else is wasteful considering BC hasn't adhered to its true mission in years.

 
At 7:10 AM, Blogger blist said...

Ryan, that you find room in your heart to continue to give just goes to show the unfathomable depths of the human heart. Please tell us how BC has failed you. Was it by:
A) Eliminating Men's Lacrosse
B) Allowing non-Catholics to see, let alone touch, Gasson hall.
C) Allowing women on campus
D) Not condemning Obama

 
At 7:31 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Ryan,
BC's endowment is not that great. It's about $1.7 billion. For comparison (numbers rounded):
Harvard: $32 billion
MIT: $10 billion
Northwestern: $7 billion
Notre Dame: $6 billion
Duke: $6 billion

http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/offices/endowment/top50endowments.html

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger bceagle93 said...

It is a complete misnomer that the BC endowment is more than healthy -- quite the opposite. For a more selective University with national aspirations, it is small -- actually on par with a school like Davidson. Our participation rates are dismal as well. When schools like Harvard and Yale can offer every student free tuition if it wants, it is hard to compete on a national level.

For BC to be able to continue to offer need blind admissions to the most diverse group of potential students, we really need to see alumni participation in giving increase significantly. Otherwise, BC will quickly turn into a country club school for rich kids who can afford go there.

Think of it this way -- by donating to a service oriented school like BC, you are making it possible for a more diverse set of students to attend, and you are indirectly investing in the future of those worthwhile organizations in the process.

Whether it is $1 or $1000, alumni giving is critical to the future success of BC.

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger ObserverCollege said...

There are a number of myths in bceagle93's post:

1. Why on Earth would you want BC to become more (economically) diverse? Full tuition dollars are a guaranteed revenue stream. You don't have to beg your alums if you can collect a lot in tuition dollars. Plus, financial aid drains your resources, so you have to use it as an investment for the good of your school. Use your financial aid to give a cut rate to top kids who can pay a decent amount of the cost, and go full tuition with the rest.

2. How do you know a school is need-blind? To say it is need-blind, all an admissions office has to do is refrain from looking at a family's income. But they can use zip code, the "competitiveness" of the school you attended, a heavy weight on extracurricular activities, and other factors ASSOCIATED with wealth and income to set up a formula that results in mostly need-immune kids.

3. Money is fungible. The problem with a dedicated gift to a financial aid fund is that the University just reduces its own allocation to financial aid by the amount of the "gift", so in terms of aggregate financial aid it's a wash. If you want to have an impact, buy something tangible that the University wouldn't purchase otherwise. Donate money specified to build a dorm exclusively for the athletes (like the Wildcat Lodge at Kentucky). Donate both a charter jet and the ongoing maintenance costs so that athletic department can use it at its own discretion. In other words, find areas where you can donate enough money to overcome the University's own decisionmaking process, where fungibility goes away.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger eagle1331 said...

I understand the crucial roll that Alumni giving plays in ranking, how our school is viewed, how it can grow, etc. but my holding back - or rather diminishing - contribution has nothing to do with my lack of caring for that.

I am an extremely proud and passionate graduate of The Heights, but I do honestly feel that the school isn't the same as it was when I went there... and that was only a handful of years ago. It is not that it has failed me, blist, it is that it has changed in a manner I do not support and I feel it has neglected to support me as an Alumni.

Before people jump on my back that team rankings and coaches shouldn't affect the school as a whole, allow me to expand on that briefly. In the years since I've graduated:

- The dustbowl is gone (I selected BC over similarly ranked schools in Urban areas because of the green space on campus)
- The repeated, if not outright harassing solicitations for donations after I lost my first job during the recession
- The demeaning was I was spoken to when I turned down making a donation as a guest at another city's Alumni event
- Being rejected from the MBA program despite a great GMAT score
- "Secret" and "by invite only" Alumni programs in my town that I was not invited to participate in because they were only for elite alumni and high end donors
- A complete lack of programs aimed at those of us not good enough for the former statement
- And of course, the way Gene D. has dragged our sports program beyond the mud while Leahy has sat idly by

I cut my donation by 75% this year. Next year it will be by 100% if changes aren't made in Chestnut Hill, both in the Athletics Department and in the Alumni Relations Office.

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger bceagle93 said...

Why do I want a more diverse population of students? One self serving reason: because I look at my diploma from BC largely like a stock certificate. The better, smarter, more well rounded set of graduates the University outputs, frankly, the more benefit I get professionally from my affiliation with the school. I am happy to say that BC has become a much tougher place to get into than when I went -- it means we are attracting higher calibur students. However, what I worry about is the risk of homogenizing our alumni base to the point where we are solely graduating an entitled group of students with similar backgrounds.

If a bright inner city kid chooses to go to a school like Emory over BC because we cannot offer them enough financial aid, that is a loss for the quality of our community (and, ironically, is in complete contrast to the reason why the University was founded 150 years ago). Unfortunately, that is the increasing reality we face with the current state of our alumni giving.

Getting back to ATL's post: I am fine with alums specifying where and how their contributions should be used. I'm also fine with alums choosing to donate to athletics over academics if they want. The key, however, is understanding that Boston College has leveraged it's success athletically and academically to a point where our endowment cannot support our aspirations -- alumni participation, at any level, is going to be critical for ensuring the increasing value of our diplomas in the future.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

Better smarter and more well rounded does not have anything to do with DIVERSITY.

The school should ONLY be focused on better smarter and more well rounded. Diversity should have very little to do with the admissions process.

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

Homogenizing our alumni base? When did you graduate? 2008?

Boston College was 95% white, 90%catholic school, with 85% of its students from the NE until 1990.

Since the creation of AHANA the school has become more diverse racially.

At this point it is the most diverse that it has ever been.

Who is this guy?

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

How is losing a kid to Emory who needs financial aid a loss to Boston College.

You just said that the school is harder to get into than it has ever been,

Shouldn't John Mahoney have another "inner city kid" of equal caliber lined up in the event that the first offer is not accepted.

Frankly if I were african american student I would prefer to live in Atlanta than Boston.

 
At 12:07 PM, Blogger bostonfoodie said...

For my two cents, I give a nominal amount for USNews purposes, but for anyone who went through BC and had an organization they feel strongly about (club team, service group, faculty program), I recommend setting up your own 401c3 and board to aid that organization. Once it goes to BC you have little actual control on the $$ (unless you give 7 figures). You're better off controlling it yourself.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Tip: Although BC doesn't advertise this fact, you can earmark your donation (regardless of amount) to almost anything on campus: your major department, school, sport, club, etc. I worked in the development office for four years. There is a huge list of these dedicated funds. BC doesn't advertise this because they prefer unrestricted gifts. But I say it's better to give fifty bucks to BC earmarked for the Appalachia Volunteers than to give nothing at all. Something to think about.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Tim said...

1331-
You realize that BC recently acquired an enormous amount of green space from the Archdiocese (i.e. the Brighton Campus), and as we speak (write) they are converting the brick plaza in front of O'Neill into green space?

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger Lenny Sienko said...

As a general comment about giving to BC, I must remark that I find the current aggressiveness off-putting.

I had intended to attend my 35th reunion from BCLS; but was discouraged to find that it was to be a "generic" event, hosted at a downtown hotel. There was really nothing planned for my class. Our class dinner in the law library on our 20th was great!

I could accept the need for economies of scale; but the "committee" to "plan" the event was only about a development office guy dunning us for a class gift. I was going to contribute; but the blizzard of requests from this fellow has put me of so much I've changed my mind.

I suppose the best method of giving to BC is in your will. If you advise BC they are included, you'll end up a member of the Shaw Society, in which the requests are more low key. You can also make as many conditional or specific bequests as you care to and BC has no choice but to go along if they want the money.

 
At 5:51 AM, Blogger john peter said...

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