Trinity Alums Meet Million Dollar Trustee Challenge

Brendan Clark ’21

Managing Editor

In June, Trinity College reached its objective by getting more than 2,000 individual donations in support of unlocking $1,000,000 in a matching donation from members of the Trinity College Board of Trustees. Those 2,000 were part of a broader constituency of 7,898 alumni/alumnae, parents, and friends who together gave to Trinity within the past year. The campaign required 7,000 donors by June 30 and exceeded that objective by 898 donors.
Director of Annual Giving Dominque Matteson spoke with the Tripod regarding this campaign, indicating that she was grateful for the “commitment and dedication of our trustees and the support of alumni and friends.” The monies raised go to support Trinity’s greatest need—the annual fund—which is unrestricted and helps to support the operational needs of Trinity and of its students.
Matteson indicated that within the 7,898 total for the past year, there were 1,000 “new” donors, defined as those who “have not previously given or have lapsed in their giving.” Matteson noted that this was a strong indicator for Trinity’s success and added that while nationwide alumni participation is going down, at Trinity this “makes for a strong year” and is a positive indicator of strong alumni engagement at the college.
This year also saw Trinity reach 30.4% alumni participation in all categories compared to 28.5% the previous year. Those percentages count giving across all aspects of Trinity life: sport team endowments, annual fund giving, and restricted gifts for departments, among others. This campaign comes in advance of Trinity’s Bicentennial and its Comprehensive Campaign, which is set to launch soon.
The level of alumni participation, according to an article from June in Inside Higher Ed, suggests that “overall giving to educational institutions declined for the first time after four years of growth by 1.3 percent to 3.7 percent.” While donation totals remain high, a new study from the Blackbaud Institute indicates that “individual alumni giving rates have declined.” The report further projects that the individual decline will continue.
The Inside Higher Ed article also suggests that a myriad of factors may have contributed to the decline in individual donations. Brian Flahaven, a senior advocacy director at CASE, added that “the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act…eliminated the need for many middle-class people to itemize their deductions.” That change in itemizing policy may partially account for the noticeable change in individual donations.
Trinity also saw an 8 percent increase over its previous year’s donor number—6,820—which was the “largest increase of any school in the NESCAC,” added Vice President for College Advancement Michael Casey. Casey also indicated that he “appreciated the trustees’ leadership and responsibility” in leading this campaign and in making the funds available to support it.
In a Jul. 2 story on Trinity’s website covering the campaign by Tess Dudek-Rolon, Matteson added that the “passion [of alumni] is clearly reflected in this year’s giving results and by the 115 alumni who stepped forward to give their time as new fundraising volunteers.” Matteson emphasized that giving any amount is a significant aid to the college, as donor numbers are factored into “rankings.” Thus, said Matteson, “it doesn’t matter the amount: every dollar makes an impact.”