Colorado College alumni, parents, and friends are generous; generous to the college and to many other good causes. Alumni have a strong allegiance to the college, and loved their experience both in and out of the classroom. They have close ties with and fond memories of faculty and fellow students. While these statements will not surprise most alumni, they are affirmed by the recent alumni survey. Those interested in reading the initial report on results may do so at

During the first six months of the current fiscal year, a record $12 million in cash came to the college for a variety of purposes. (see details of first semester giving below.) In addition, many alumni have chosen to remember the college in their estate plans, providing millions of dollars in the future.

Throughout the recent campaign, all members of the college family were asked to participate in the vision in the way that suited their individual circumstances. Their response was wonderful. More than 60 percent of CC alumni made at least one gift during that period.

Generosity is to be celebrated, but questions remain.

If alumni love the college, are as generous as we know them to be, and give in large numbers over the years, why then is what is known as “the annual alumni giving percentage rate” so much lower than some of our peer liberal arts institutions?

It is true that nearly all institutions, including Colorado College, report that fewer alumni are giving more money. But is there a reason that when 60 percent of alumni make gifts over a period of eight years (the campaign) that only slightly more than 20 percent give in an individual year? Are CC alumni different from alumni at other institutions? Are CC alumni less engaged?  Does the fact that most alumni live more than 1,000 miles away make some difference? Do alumni see their alma mater as a priority in their philanthropy?

Where, or in what ways, could the case for regular annual support “This Year and Every Year” and the importance of embracing the belief that “Every Gift Matters” be made stronger? The college welcomes the thoughts of alumni as we work to better understand the issues. We invite you to visit where you may leave your ideas and comments.

And does the relatively low annual participation percentage matter? Because many place a high value on that number as an endorsement of the quality of a college’s education, it does matter. Many are eager to compare CC to other fine colleges — and that one number could make a reader wonder.

In coming months, a lot of attention will be paid to the annual alumni participation rate. The college’s Board of Trustees has even formed a strategic project team to help think through this complicated issue. More study of the alumni survey results will also help us work through this conundrum.

Meanwhile, alumni, joined by CC parents and many friends, will continue to speak well of the college, recruit students to matriculate, help students find internships and positions, come to Homecoming and alumni events, and generally share their amazing experience with one another as well as others. And the impact of alumni generosity will continue to be felt.

As one observer said, “No one can say CC alumni don’t care! Maybe they just don’t demonstrate it quite as regularly.”

First Semester Financial Support Highlights

July 1-December 31, 2011

  • In the first six months of the fiscal year, CC received a record $12.7 million in cash from its generous donors — a new high for a first half of a year.
  • $2 million from the Walton Family Foundation for endowed financial aid for deep-need and first-generation college students. This matches the first $2 million contributed from donors toward this $10 million matching grant.
  • $1.07 million for Davis International Scholars.
  • $1 million from El Pomar Foundation as an installment on its grant to El Pomar Sports Center and hockey scholarships.
  • 23 major gifts and pledge commitments between $50,000 and $500,000 totaling $4.6 million to support El Pomar Sports Center, the Walton Family Foundation matching grant, the interdisciplinary arts, the Bill Barton Professorship, international student experience funds, and other priorities.
  • 63 President’s Circle members generating $714,000 in unrestricted support for college priorities.
  • 223 1874 Society members generating $510,000 in unrestricted operating support.
  • Donors of amounts below $1,874 contributing nearly $1 million.
  • In total, the college received more than $17 million in cash and new pledge commitments in the six-month period.
    This includes: 

    • The naming commitment for the fitness center of $3.5 million. (See story.)
    • Major pledges to the Walton Challenge brings us over the halfway point to $5.25 million.