Senior Class Gift breaks records

The 2011 Senior Class Gift Campaign broke the Class of 2010’s record for most dollars raised this week — five days before fundraising is set to close.

The Class of 2011 had raised $34,672 with 81.4 percent participation as of Thursday morning, compared to last year’s unprecedented final total of $29,670 with 91 percent participation. Senior Class Gift Co-Chairs Haley Cohen ’11 and Tully McLoughlin ’11 said the achievement was a “nice surprise,” adding that collecting as much money as possible was secondary to their goal of achieving 100 percent class participation.

As of Thursday morning, 81.4 percent of seniors had given to the class gift.
Haley Cohen
As of Thursday morning, 81.4 percent of seniors had given to the class gift.

“We’ve just been thrilled and excited with how quickly and enthusiastically people have reacted,” Cohen said.

One hundred and sixty seniors volunteered with the campaign this year, as opposed to 133 last year.

With five days left until their campaign ends next Tuesday, both co-chairs said they remain hopeful about reaching the 100-percent benchmark. They added that, although they hope to bring in seniors who were originally skeptical that the campaign is worthwhile, they do not want to pressure classmates who do not want to give for personal reasons.

“We are not going to go to an extreme to accomplish our goal,” McLoughlin said. “We’re not trying to push other people into donating.”

Undergraduate tuition does not fully cover the cost of a Yale education, Cohen added. Though some of the cost comes out of the endowment, donations also help relieve this gap.

Contributions to the Alumni Fund through the Senior Class Gift will go to several areas of the University, including financial aid, facilities, library collections and faculty support.

If the campaign reaches certain benchmarks, it will continue to raise money, Cohen said. For example, every residential college that reaches 100 percent participation will get $10,000 of financial aid for an incoming freshman. Because this year’s donations exceed last year’s, an anonymous donor has also agreed to match the final tally, and Cohen and McLoughlin were told that another anonymous donor will give $100,000 to financial aid for study abroad programs if 100 percent class participation is achieved.

Managing Director of the Yale Alumni Fund Lynn Andrewsen said that although no class has ever reached the 100 percent participation benchmark, she thinks the Class of 2011 has a better chance than any before.

As the campaign winds down, residential college co-chairs and other seniors will talk to classmates who have not donated, listen to their worries about the campaign and attempt to explain the merits of donating to Yale, McLoughlin said.

“We think that the facts are really compelling, so we don’t think that we need to do most of the persuading,” Cohen said.

All seven seniors interviewed Thursday said they had donated. Six added that they saw the Senior Class Gift as a good way to show appreciation for their four years at Yale.

Zach Mulvihill ’11 said he originally knew nothing about the campaign’s purpose or message, but after he was called by volunteers in his college, he decided to give the recommended gift of $5.

The Senior Class Gift program started in 1997. This year, the campaign developed an original Handsome Dan logo, and has updated its website daily and organized trivia nights and happy hours for members of the senior class.

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