In the midst of finding work, juggling finances and repaying student loans, some UCF graduates said they have been asked to immediately contribute to university donations.
Only 3 to 6 percent of alumni make donations to UCF, compared with nearly 16 percent at the University of Florida and 9 percent at the University of South Florida, as previously reported by the Central Florida Future.
UCF alumni have expressed concerns about the low numbers, stating that student loans, unemployment and the inability to give back financially — as well as immediate calls on UCF’s part asking for donations — contribute to the statistics.
There is no set period of time in which alumni are contacted for donations. Once a student graduates, UCF Advancement, comprised of both the Alumni Association and the UCF Foundation, receives word and enters the students in its database. The program then reaches out to the alumni in random groups via phone calls, emails and physical mail, often accompanied by UCF news and events.
“Some alumni may be contacted within weeks or months of graduation; others may not hear from us for a year or more,” said Mike Morsberger, CEO of the UCF Foundation.
Due to the database being a random system, UCF Advancement has no way to know which alumni are paying off debt and which have the capability to donate. The only way to find out is to ask.
“We understand that many students who are repaying educational loans are not inclined to give back,” Morsberger said. “Nonetheless, some of them are, and we can’t know that without asking.”
Finances can also be a hindrance for recent college graduates who leave their alma mater without a job secured. Many may find themselves working entry-level positions or internships after graduation, hindering them from donating.
Ashlyn Murphy, a senior sociology major, said donating to UCF will most likely not be a priority for quite some time after her spring 2016 graduation.
“I think I might donate sometime in the relatively distant future, maybe like 10 to 15 years after I graduate,” Murphy said. “In the short term, I will be coming out of college and working for a church and won’t be making just a whole lot of money to give back into the university system right away.”
Murphy, whose parents already receive regular calls about donations, said donating to one’s alma mater should be dictated by the desire to see the school flourish, not by the number of calls regarding requests.
According to the UCF Foundation, UCF does not make calls to students as undergraduates. Parents of current students, however, may receive requests to donate.
Some alumni are not inclined to donate simply because they have little understanding of where their money is directed.
UCF alumna Sarah Restrepo graduated in May 2014 and said she does not use a majority of the alumni resources.
“I would donate if I was still enrolled and active at UCF because I would have a much better understanding of where my money is going,” said Restrepo, who has received requests to donate via email since graduation.
At UCF, alumni donations are allocated to specific departments, programs or athletics as directed by the donor. But no matter the purpose, UCF Foundation said donations of any size make a difference for the school.
“Even gifts of $5 or $10 or $25 matter,” Morsberger said. “We try very hard to communicate to our young alumni that the decision to donate in the first place matters as much as the money. We deeply appreciate every donation UCF receives, but gifts from recent graduates who we know may be stretching to afford it are especially meaningful.”
Rosie Reitze is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.