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September 11, 2002:

Economy blamed for slight dip in Annual Giving

Major reunion classes and recent alumni lift totals

By Argelio Dumenigo

Princeton's 2001-02 Annual Giving campaign reached its second highest total ever, but for the first time since 1996 the campaign did not top the previous year's total.

After six straight record-breaking years, contributions to the campaign totaled $36.4 million, nearly $300,000 less than last year's record high. About 58.3 percent of all undergraduate alumni participated this year, compared to 59.4 last year.

Considering the financial climate created by a longer-than-expected recession, the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the summer's stock market plunge, university officials were pleased with the results.

Although final results from other universities were not available yet, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in August that fundraising in higher education was expected to have dropped nationally as donors — large and small — felt the pinch of falling stock prices.

"Under the circumstances everybody was proud of these results and should be," said Bill Hardt '63, director of Annual Giving. "These are good results under tough conditions."

A major highlight of the campaign was the Class of 1952 becoming the first to ever surpass the $6-million mark. About 83 percent of the 50th reunion class participated and raised $6,047,713.

The Class of 1997 also set a record for a fifth reunion, raising $192,711, with a participation rate of 61.3 percent. Hardt said he felt good about the continuing strength of participation among younger alumni. Along with the Class of 1997, the Classes of 2001 and 1998 also had participation rates of more than 60 percent.

Class Agent Colleen Shanahan '98 said that even though many of her classmates spoke of layoffs and having less money to give this year, her class still reached more than 60 percent participation for the fourth straight year. "My experience is that people are really responsive to a plea of participation. It's not how much you give, it's that you give," said Shanahan, a third-year law student at Columbia.

Shanahan and Class Agent Stephanie Ramos '00 also credited the Annual Giving staff for helping organize their campaigns and providing advice on strategy and communication. "It's a fluid relationship between the staff and volunteers," said Shanahan.

Ramos also cited recent university initiatives, including the new financial aid program, as a reason more young alumni are giving. "We always tell people in our letters, if you had a good experience at Princeton, it was alumni who helped support you while you were there. So you can support the current students," Ramos said.

Cumulatively, 88.9 percent of all undergraduate alumni have participated in Annual Giving at some time, according to the university.

Other statistics:

The Class of 1931, with 33 members, reached 100 percent participation.

The Class of 1932 set a 70th-reunion record, bringing in $177,141.

The Class of 1963, which raised $551,063, broke its own record for a non-major reunion.

The Class of 1942's participation rate of 84.3 percent was the highest among major reunion classes.

The Class of 1939 surpassed the 90 percent mark for the 11th consecutive year.

Graduate School alumni donated $709,811.

The Parents' Fund totaled $1,478.691, and memorial gifts reached $724,665.

The Class of 2001 had the highest participation rate among the 10 youngest classes, at 62.7 percent.

The lowest participation rates were the Class of 1929 (43.5), the Class of 1985 (46.3), the Class of 1971 (47.7), and the Class of 1980 (47.9).