Alumni donations rise

By Michael Berg

The number of NIU alumni who donate money rose by 3,000 in 1991 to an all-time high of 13,753 donors.

The trend began in 1985, and in those seven years, the donors have doubled. These alumni, altogether in 1991, provided $593,638 to the annual fund.

In comparison with Illinois State University in Normal, a school with a smaller donor-base to explain their smaller number of donors, the average contribution of each donating alumnus is $69. At NIU, the average contribution per person is $43.

The fund has many uses, including support of academic programs, scholarships, university libraries and research and computer labs.

Robert Brown, Director of Special Giving at NIU, said there are two reasons the alumni donors are growing in number. “First, the alumni body is maturing, and once they build foundations in careers and family, they are in the position to make charitable gifts,” Brown said. “The second is the NIU alumni phone-a-thon.”

The phone-a-thon happens twice a year, when students call up alumni and request donations. In 1990, 33 percent of the alumni called made a pledge.

For pledging, alumni receive many benefits, including going to Alumni Association events, discounts on alumni trips and merchandise, career development seminars and domestic and overseas travel programs. In 1992, the trips are to London and Rome.

The two ways alumni can donate is the phone-a-thon and the direct-mail program. Mailings occur twice a year, in the fall for the general alumni fund and in spring for each alumni’s college or department.

“The significant increase in alumni support sends a powerful message to corporations, foundations and other friends of the university,” Brown said. “Namely, NIU alumni appreciate and value their NIU education.”