Class of ’07 begins gift-giving

Yale seniors may be used to tithes — “For God” — and taxes — “For Country” — but now they are eligible for the final step: donations “For Yale.”

With the Monday launch of the senior class gift drive, Yale College seniors will have their first organized opportunity to give back to the University. But the class gift differs significantly from the University’s other fundraising efforts: The object of this campaign is not necessarily to raise significant amounts of money, but rather to get as many seniors as possible to participate.

“The purpose of the gift is to commemorate our time at Yale and to show commitment to Yale’s future,” said Laura Greer ’07, one of the two co-chairs of the senior class gift. “We want to have seniors show that commitment.”

If students get in the habit of giving money to Yale now, they will be much more likely to give continuously throughout their lives, said Marie DiZazzo, associate director of annual giving. Students will be encouraged to give even as little as $5.

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said although many seniors do not have the resources to give substantially, the bond they form now with Yale is important.

“The idea is to continue a relationship with Yale and one’s classmates through giving, even if only a small amount,” he said in an e-mail.

Last year, the class of 2006 raised almost $18,800 and had 73 percent participation. Greer said she hopes the class of 2007 achieves 100 percent participation.

While several seniors said they will probably give something to the class gift, Zachary Zwillinger ’07 said he would rather donate to Dwight Hall. Zwillinger is a co-coordinator of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, which works under the umbrella of Dwight Hall.

“Obviously Yale doesn’t need the money like lots of organizations do,” Zwillinger said. “But if you’ve enjoyed your time at Yale, and you want to give back, then you should do so.”

DiZazzo approached Greer and co-chair Michael Rucker ’07 about filling the positions during their sophomore year based on recommendations from previous gift chairs, she said. Greer and Rucker in turn chose two members of the class in each residential college to coordinate giving.

Such a diffuse leadership will help the volunteers have face-to-face contact with each member of the senior class, said Ivan Dremov ’07, co-chair for Pierson College. Dremov said he and the 11 other Pierson volunteers hope to meet in person with each of the roughly 120 seniors in the college in the coming months.

The setup of the campaign also encourages competition among the colleges. Anonymous parents will match gifts in each college up to $1,000 and will give the money directly to the colleges. In addition, the college with the highest participation rate will receive $2,500 from an anonymous donor to throw a celebration.

“The way the Development Office set this up is this competition with a lot of incentives,” Dremov said.

Aside from the pride of giving back to Yale, Dremov said, volunteering to work on the class gift has its personal perks.

“There’s a benefit to getting reacquainted with everyone because we are second-semester seniors,” he said.

Out of the last five Yale College classes, the class of 2004 raised the most money and had the highest participation rate. Eighty-two percent of that class donated money, and the class raised over $24,000.

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