This year, Yale’s annual fundraising campaign for United Way saw a 12.5 percent increase in faculty and staff participation and raised 1.18 million dollars for charitable causes in Greater New Haven.
Funds raised through this year’s campaign — an annual partnership between the organization and the University — will be used for community and youth projects in Greater New Haven, such as providing meals in schools, supporting early care education initiatives and funding after-school enrichment programs for students, according to United Way Vice President of Community Engagement Joshua Mamis.
Though faculty interviewed said they were pleased with the generosity of their colleagues, some faculty and campaign organizers believed there is still room for Yale to improve its philanthropic efforts.
University Secretary and Vice President Kimberly Goff-Crews, who co-chairs the campaign, said in an email that anyone who works at Yale or lives in New Haven recognizes that the wellbeing of Greater New Haven is essential to the University’s vitality.
“The people at Yale care not only about Yale’s relationship to the city … but the faculty and staff we work with are also invested on a human level,” Mamis said.
Goff-Crews said personal appeals to faculty and staff were an effective method for raising funds and garnering participation.
Dean of the Medical School Robert Alpern, who served as the other co-chair of the campaign, said in an email that donating to United Way is an efficient way to make a difference because donors do not need to individually research charitable causes. Rather, United Way distributes funds toward the broader goal of supporting education in New Haven, he said.
Though Mamis said the campaign also allows individuals who are passionate about particular causes to designate a nonprofit of choice on their pledge forms, he added that it is more common for staff and faculty to simply select an area of care to receive their donation.
Still, some faculty cautioned against celebrating this year’s campaign as an outright success.
“Yale’s participation rate is not where it needs to be,” School of Management professor Barry Nalebuff said, citing the fact that Yale trails its peer institutions in its United Way participation rate. While Nalebuff said Yale has roughly 6 percent participation, Quinnipiac has 30 percent and Harvard has 40 percent.
Nalebuff also noted the disparity in engagement among the different schools within Yale. Though faculty and staff at SOM and the Yale Law School receive comparable salaries, only 4.4 percent of YLS employees donated to the campaign, compared to 24.8 percent of SOM employees. Nalebuff said he made a personal commitment to match all funds raised by the SOM, which he said incentivized fellow faculty to donate.
The average donation per employee at the Yale School of Drama was $9.73 — not enough to purchase a single ticket at the Yale Repertory Theater, according to Nalebuff.
But Mamis discouraged judging Yale based on its peer institutions.
“It is not always a comparable situation to say, ‘Harvard gives this much so Yale should give this much,’” Mamis said. “The communities are very different, the histories are very different, [New Haven] is an individual location and [has] individual challenges.”
Goff-Crews said Yale as a community is very philanthropic and its commitment to the New Haven area can be found in more than monetary donations. The University is equally supportive of those who donate time as those who donate money, she said.
Mamis said he hopes to encourage more student participation in the campaign in future years. United Way already works with Yale students on projects like volunteer tax assistance, he said.
Goff-Crews said the University encourages all members of Yale to participate in the campaign. However, fundraising efforts are primarily directed toward faculty and staff since many students already give back to the community through Dwight Hall. Still, she said some students do donate to United Way.
The theme of this year’s campaign was “Give Every Child a Chance.” This is the fourth year that the United Way campaign has focused on children of the Greater New Haven area.