Why don’t more graduates donate to their alma mater? Why do you give (or not give) to your alma mater?

If you’ve ever trooped across a stage in a cap and gown, you’re a prime candidate for phone calls, mailings, and e-blasts for alma mater donations. Your alma mater wants your donation, and it doesn’t matter how much debt you have. However, alma mater donations are really low for 2010, and there’s not a whole lot of hope that alma mater donations will increase soon.

Why Are Alma Mater Donations So Low?

Why the all-time low in alma mater donations? It’s no secret that the economy tanked a couple of years ago. The resulting economic vortex left everyone clutching their wallets a bit tighter, and clamping down on donations. In addition, alma mater donations go down when school prices go up. And, yes, school prices have had increases due to the economic pinch. It’s hard to make a generous alma mater donation when you’re paying a hefty school bill.

What Should I Do?

Schools rely heavily on alma mater donations. Keeping a high quality school going is an expensive endeavor, and although you may think that the tuition is sky high, your alma mater could always use more cash. So, should you give, or do you hoard your hard-earned resource for yourself? Here are a few suggestions.

  • If you can’t make alma mater donations, don’t feel guilty. You are under no obligation to make alma mater donations, and if your finances don’t allow much wiggle room, it’s okay.
  • Realize that alma mater donations aren’t just lining the pockets of affluent professors; they are also helping future students get an education. To find out if your school has a designated fund for student aid, just give them a call and find out.
  • Alma mater donations don’t have to be monetary. It is becoming increasingly acceptable to make contributions of time. If you live in proximity to your alma mater, a donation of a day or two can be just as valuable—maybe even more so. You can volunteer to help out for student events, alumni events, banquets, or at the university museum.

Alma mater donations are a generous and helpful way to give back to the school that helped you. There’s no law—written or unwritten—that says you have to make alma mater donations. Somehow, it really is better to give than receive. And, hey, it’s even tax-deductible.