Advanced search

Has anyone ever donated to their alma mater?

(53 Posts)
Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 16:15:46

Just that, really.

I see a lot of threads that complain of the lack of bursaries available at independent schools or even the high fees now charged by universities. Or people complain about the lack of facilities at state schools... all the while, never thinking about parting with their own money.

In the U.S., schools like Phillips Exeter Academy can make offers needs-blind due to their huge endowments that has been accumulated over (presumably) centuries. If the family of an accepted candidate has an income of less than $75k a year, then that child's education will be free. They offer aid for families all the way up to those with a family income of $200k a year.

Same thing goes for Harvard. Yes, outside of the U.S., we think it's an elitist uni where only the rich can go, but if you are good enough to get in, your family does not pay tuition unless they earn more than $150k a year. And even above that, your parents may pay only 10% of their annual salary, which makes it a much cheaper option than British universities.

Again, the above can be done partly due to endowment funds that are frequently 'stocked up' by alumnis. If we ever want the same system, I think all of us should donate to our alma mater now.

Goes off to alma mater's website to donate a small amount.

Yes - I give monthly to my Uni and have made a couple of larger donations for specific projects.

I went to a very ordinary Comp which has now been shut down so nothing to support at school level.

Sharpkat Thu 21-Feb-13 17:51:51

I donate to both my school and my Oxbridge college. Would like to put a little bit of help towards others. I never received a penny from either but these days education is so expensive that every little helps smile

Noren Thu 21-Feb-13 18:02:09

Maybe if I ever pay off my student loan...

I personally think it should be funded through taxes properly like it used to. Donations in my view are bad as you then get corruption and nepotism.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 20:53:43

Ok. Just set up quarterly donations for my uni. Am thinking of giving some to a particular project of my college, too.

Anyone else doing this? I do think it would be good if we started being a bit more philanthropic towards our alma maters - something we could definitely copy off the Americans.

ArbitraryUsername Thu 21-Feb-13 20:56:05

I'm not donating to my own bloody employer!

malinois Thu 21-Feb-13 20:56:34

I donate to the universities I attended in the UK (not the one in the US - it's rich enough already!) The Alumni receptions can be fun, although they do tend to frisk you down for more money after plying you with booze.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 21:01:14


Why do you think is the U.S. much further ahead in the game than the U.K.? I wonder about that a lot. Is it cultural?

Matsikula Thu 21-Feb-13 21:12:16

Yes, to my university (despite it being phenomenally well-endowed) but not to my school (despite having got a big scholarship).

I donated for the reasons above, but give to my university because I think university is an experience that can and should be life-changing, but not to my school because my feelings about private education are the cause of occasional bouts of soul-searching when I can't sleep.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 21:32:42

Why the occasional bouts of soul-searching, Matsikula? I would have thought that having got a big scholarship set you out to go to uni and beyond?

SavoirFaire Thu 21-Feb-13 21:33:10

Americans are, to stereotype a little, more philanthropic than Brits. So yes, it is cultural. A very high proportion of students who studied at US universities give back to their uni, in comparison with the UK. I don't know the stats, but I believe at places like Princeton it's something like 50%, possibly more, whereas average in the UK is 2% or less. Perhaps because paying high fees (or receiving bursaries) makes you appreciate the costs associated and need for bursaries? I would always give to a uni over a private school. I think private school bursaries are well and good. However, I don't think that schools need ever more flashy resources (boat houses, 500 seater theatres etc etc), whereas money to universities can go towards critical medical research (or whatever other area of research you're personally interested in really) as well as scholarships and bursaries.

yummydad Thu 21-Feb-13 21:38:13

As far as I am aware an Alma Mater means a "wet nurse" or "suckling nurse" which is a pretty offensive connotation for an educational institution in this day and age. If you are a member of a College then certainly give if you got a lot out (although I always say for scholarships which are objective and fair not bursaries which are much more arbitrary, depend too much on honest declaration when we know there's loads of fraud or lifestyle choice and bursaries often go to the wrong people: particularly in the UK when it is the very poorest who already get the most from the state and can easily borrow to cover their uni education whereas the next tranche up really struggle and are more likely to be excluded).

SavoirFaire Thu 21-Feb-13 21:38:24

More than 62% of alumni give to Princeton

In the UK it is around 1%, although 10% at Oxbridge

SavoirFaire Thu 21-Feb-13 21:54:52

Here's an extract from a Guardian piece, which talks about the cultural difference between UK and US giving:

Giving in the UK stands at around 1% of GDP, roughly half the US level (though the comparison is skewed by the fact that nearly a third of US giving is to religious organisations). But in the US, philanthropy is institutionalised: wealthy Americans routinely give 3.5% of their investable assets to charity (against 0.5-0.8% for their British counterparts) and have a public "duty" to give.

Here, it has generally been a private affair: not done to blow your own trumpet. "It's cultural," says Beth Breeze of the centre for philanthropy, humanitarianism and social justice at the University of Kent. "The tax differences aren't enormous. Partly, it's because the US is better at asking. But in America, every Harvard graduate thinks: who's going to be the first in my year to have a building named after him? In New York, you haven't made it if you're not on the board of a major arts institution like the Met."


breatheslowly Thu 21-Feb-13 22:02:23

I give to my old college when I go back for dinner - the dinner is free, but I tend to make a donation which would generously pay for an equivalent dinner. Given they only have to pay the cost price of it, they are quids in. I definitely don't donate when they pay students to make phone calls structured with feeble attempts at small talk followed by a request for money.

I don't give to my old (independent) school as I would rather save for DD to be privately educated than pay for someone else's child to be privately educated and we are not rolling in money, it will be tight if we can afford it at all.

Copthallresident Thu 21-Feb-13 22:13:45

There is much more of a civil society in the states generally not just in relation to education, if you achieve financial success then it is expected you will get involved in some form of philanthropy or activities that will benefit wider society.

We do sponsor a prize in memory of a friend at our old uni. I am now at my third uni so I get quite a few calls trying to elicit contributions both financial and in terms of practical help to students but so far have only really got fully involved with activities at my first postgrad uni, and then because they arose ina social / networking context. Alway feel more generous after a good alumni reunion grin

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 22:19:00


I do think there's another point - in the US, having gone to one of the more well-known unis carries a lot of prestige that translates into well-paid jobs. So, in the end, going to such a uni can REALLY change your life in terms of income.

While in the UK, going to Oxbridge may produce a similar effect (still not the same), it's definitely not true for all the RG unis... and you'll find that a lot of graduate jobs here do not get paid as well as in the US I can assure you that if DH was working in the US for the same company, doing the same job, he would easily get paid nearly twice the amount he gets paid here. This is simply because the UK does not necessarily value someone with a PhD as much as the US seems to do - and obviously, his company simply matches the going rate. Similarly, I may get paid a bit more for what I do, too, but the difference would not be nearly as much as in his case.

I personally think that in the US, you get A LOT MORE out of going to these unis that happen to have the big endowment funds than you would ever get out of ANY uni here in the UK. So obviously, you are going to be a lot more grateful, too...

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 21-Feb-13 22:25:15

My university rings me up once a year and asks me to tell them about my time ad a student with them. The first time they did it they got me monologuing for a good 15 mins before hitting me with the donation schtick. I felt awful telling them that my graduate career was not quite as glittering as I had hoped and that I couldn't afford to support another student with £20 per month. Then I got cross about it but they still ring me up each year and try it on.

ArbitraryUsername Thu 21-Feb-13 22:28:34

I just tell the poor student who phones that the only reason the university has my phone number is because I work for them now. After that they seem to understand that the won't be getting any money from me. My UG university have no idea where I am, so they can't phone me. They send magazines to my mum's house instead and I tell her to bin them.

I agree there's a different culture, but I'm less convinced that copying the USA is the way to go.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 22:33:04

My point above - the 22:19:00 one... there's an advert saying:

PhD Process Engineer
Salary: £30,000 per annum
Location: North East

That's $46,000. I think in the US, they'd have to pay much more than that.

stealthsquiggle Thu 21-Feb-13 22:36:32

I donate a small amount to my college. I do it in spite of, rather than because of, them getting students to call me.

SconeRhymesWithGone Thu 21-Feb-13 22:45:35

I am American living in the US. I have also worked and volunteered in fundraising for nonprofits, including universities. I just want to point out that many people who give who are not wealthy (I am one of them) and anonymous donations (even large ones) are not uncommon, so not everyone is looking for recognition.

I give regularly to one of the two US universities I attended and to my Scottish university.

SconeRhymesWithGone Thu 21-Feb-13 22:49:06

And with apologies to those 3 universities, I realize there is an extra "who" in the above post.

Snazzynewyear Thu 21-Feb-13 22:51:59

Have done it in the past but not right now as a) income much lower than it used to be and b) alma mater does not have ethical investment policy.

Snazzynewyear Thu 21-Feb-13 22:52:44

If I won the lottery, though (unlikely as don't play, but...) one of the things I would definitely do is set up bursaries. Would give me a lot of pleasure to do so.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: