Donations build on development

Celebrating 100 years at Laurier speaks to a long legacy of student and alumni involvement at the university. In fact, many initiatives around campus have been the result of the careful co-ordination of donations provided by former Laurier students.

Scott Harris, the associate director of annual giving affirmed that, “There is a lot of philanthropy that goes on in this campus and people aren’t aware of it.”
Indeed, alumni support has gone unrecognized for a number of initiatives at both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

Tom Berczi, president of the WLU Alumni Association explained, “We made significant pledges to support the development of the career and co-op centre as well as the most recent Alumni Hall, which is the lecture hall in Brantford that we just celebrated the grand opening of on the weekend.”

One of the projects on the horizon supported by alumni donations is the
consideration of a statue of Wilfrid Laurier, projected to find a home in the amphitheatre adjacent the quad. This will help create a focal point for the Laurier community, something the university currently lacks.

Projects like Alumni field, the Career and Co-op Centre and the forthcoming Laurier statue are possible largely due to donor support.

The call centre in Alumni Hall reconnects with almost 25,000 alumni each year. “Our participation rate is the key performance indicator that is used in fundraising across all universities,” Harris explained.

“Our participation in the call centre for instance is about 16 per cent so that means every 16 out of 100 that we speak to give a gift.”

Harris explained that this statistic ranks Laurier somewhere in the upper-middle of the pack among Canadian institutions for alumni donations.

“The cost per dollar raised is about 35 cents in our operation which is actually really low. We don’t ever use external fundraisers. All our employees are students, we don’t pay anyone outside of our office,” Harris added. “35 cents is pretty good.”

Laurier has also been experiencing an upward trend in total alumni donations over the past couple years.

In 2005, $800,000 was raised in alumni support. Since then, donations have grown to $1.3 million in 2009. “I suspect this year with the way the numbers have been trending that we’ll be around the same that we were last year,” Harris added.

One of the challenges facing donor levels is “taking people who are connected, engaged, involved students and keeping them that way as alumni, whether that be through donations or attendance at events or volunteering,” said Harris.

However, the pursuit of unique campaigns, such as the possibility of the new Laurier statue, will hopefully engage those who otherwise wouldn’t donate through normal solicitation.

Harris verified that these enhancements made to university projects, “don’t come out of operating budgets and they don’t take away from the classroom experience.” Instead, these enhancements help round out the Laurier experience. “It wouldn’t be possible without alumni support,” he concluded.