At the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, it was announced that UCF receives donations from approximately 3 to 6 percent of alumni. With an alumni base of 250,000, that means only between 7,500 and 15,000 donate to their alma mater.
CEO of the UCF Foundation Michael Morsberger, vice president for alumni relations and development, said although the percentage is lower than the university would like to see, the lower rate could be the result of several influences.
“Ironically, our large size is likely a contributing factor, as is our relatively young age,” Morsberger said. “Generally speaking, the American institutions with the highest alumni-giving rates are among the oldest.”
UCF’s alumni population of 250,000 is fairly young, with approximately one in three alumni being under the age of the 30.
Older, more established universities in the state experience higher rates of alumni donation.
At the University of Florida, established in 1905, there is an alumni population of 413,690. Tim Walsh, assistant vice president of UF’s Alumni Association, said 15.8 percent of alumni — or nearly 65,400 — give back to the school.
Walsh said a strong alumni backing is important to the success of the school, as it helps aid students, faculty and programs.
“A large, supportive alumni base is a positive factor in university rankings, which influences the interest of potential students and faculty,” Walsh said.
At the University of South Florida, established in 1956, 9 percent of the approximate 296,000 alumni — about 26,700 — make financial donations to their alma mater, said Bill McCausland, USF’s Alumni Association executive director.
McCausland said alumni support is critical to a university, providing a bridge between the past and present, and the 9 percent who donate to the school serve as champions for their alma mater.
“Many donations go to scholarships to support deserving students, while other donations could be research related, or even to support infrastructure needs,” McCausland said. “There are literally hundreds of different ways the generosity of USF donors can be used to further enhance and evolve our great university.”
At UCF, financial donations are allocated to certain colleges or departments, scholarships, research and athletics at the request of the donor.
Regardless of the recipient, alumni gifts are an essential part of the university’s future.
“Alumni support, whether financial or not, is absolutely critical to the success of colleges and universities,” Morsberger said. “Their input and energy are vital to the life of the campus.”
Morsberger said the university is working hard to increase the level of alumni support, working closely with the Student Philanthropy Council and reaching out to alumni in a variety of ways, as increasing the giving rate at UCF is vital to the future of the school.
“Because we understand the importance of alumni support to the future of UCF, we work hard to maintain strong ties with our alumni and to express our gratitude to all donors,” Morsberger said.
Rosie Reitze is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.