Alumni Association To Students: “No Contact Info for You!”
As students count the days until THON, a noticeable change has been made to the philanthropy’s fundraising policy.
To protect alumni from a barrage of donation requests, the Penn State Alumni Association has decided to no longer disseminate alumni contact information to student organizations for solicitation purposes.
“[The decision was] not just by the Alumni Association but the Division of Development and Alumni Relations as well,” said Dr. Roger Williams, Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, Thursday afternoon.
Williams, who spoke via telephone, said the policy change was brought on due to a duplication of efforts by student groups and Greek Life organizations. When one organization contacts a potential donor, many others follow suit. It is discouraging to donors, especially if the money is going to the same place, he said. The decision means that organizations can only make use of previously established contacts. “Cold” mailing or calling efforts can no longer be made to drum up donations.
“To alumni, [the situation] has been [both] confusing and dismissive to them,” Williams said.
The policy change left some student groups forced to re-strategize or face lower than expected fundraising totals.
“There is no doubt that if we can’t use the database to call some of our largest donors, we won’t be able to raise as much money. Those that rely on it for a large portion of their fundraising will see at least a small drop off as a result of the decision, said Interfraternity Council President Max Wendkos.
Wendkos wished the Alumni Association would have examined different options for dealing with the problem of oversolicitation. He was in favor of a system where members of an organization could obtain the contact information for alumni of their organization.
“A lot of the fraternities rely on the University for the Alumni Database. The fraternities are going to have to rethink some things,” Wendkos said.
Meg Barnett, President of the independent organization Springfield, said, “While this is a change in formal policy, it hasn’t been the easiest to get access to the database anyway. It won’t change our overall fundraising strategy.”
Springfield possesses its own alumni database, but it is limited due to the young age of the organization.
THON Overall Kirsten Kelly did not wish to comment for this story.
Will this change affect your organization? Where do your THONvelope addresses come from? Should the Alumni Association have to take in to account the needs of current students at the expense of alumni?