Despite concerns that donors would spread out gifts among charities following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the number of Yale College alumni donating to the Annual Fund — also known as the Alumni Fund — halfway through the fiscal year is thousands higher than the number of donors at the same time last year.

But Director of New Initiatives Martha Schall ’80 said that the increase in participation has not translated into fund-raising gains. Last year, 37 percent of alumni donated an average of $483, Schall said.

The Office of Development reaches out to all Yale alumni for contributions to the Annual Fund, an expendable support fund for all facets of the University that feeds into the operating budget of Yale to cover costs not stipulated for directly.

Schall said that alumni have been particularly motivated to help the intellectual development of Yale students in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

“Yale is very important to our alumni. They really believe in what this institution is doing,” Schall said. “[Our alumni] think it is important to have smart people to grapple with the problems that are challenging society today.”

University President Richard Levin said he hoped alumni valued a Yale education more since Sept. 11.

“It is, after all, the freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry and creation of opportunities that distinguish the society we are defending,” he said.

Yale Vice President for Finance and Development Charles Pagnam said the Annual Fund is a key component of Yale fund raising because of the across-the-board participation the program encourages. Pagnam said the economy has affected alumni giving, but he feels Yale will always attract philanthropists.

“There is a real benefit for people to support institutions with a long history of producing leaders,” Pagnam said.

“We are grateful for everyone but wish there are more,” Schall said on donors — noting athletics, financial aid, facilities upkeep, and the library system as areas of the University that are not fully endowed.

Yale Alumni Fund Chairman Bobbi Mark ’76 said the fund has two goals — participation and dollars. Mark said she was happy with the fund raising to date and feels there is enough momentum for the fund to reach its goal. Yale development officers and Mark would not give the fund’s specific goal.

“One thing that is interesting is that the momentum we have seen is strong throughout all the classes. Sometimes you see patterns depending on how long people have been out,” Mark said. “It seems like the momentum is unusually stronger.”

Each year the current senior class is asked to undertake a fund-raising effort for the Alumni Fund. Schall said the class of 2002 gift effort will kick off on Jan. 31.