UniversityAlumni support and financial development
Alumni support and financial development
March 28, 2012
March 28, 2012

Alumni are badges of honor that are testaments to a university’s capacity to produce sterling graduates. Alumni, in the spirit of gratitude for the opportunities that a university provides them, give back to their university.

In one way or another, universities count on the support of alumni for the success of activities and the development of an institution’s rich and continuing tradition.

Br. Bernie Oca FSC, DLSU’s Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission and Alumni Relations (VCLMAR), shares that alumni assist the university through their financial contributions. “They give professorial chairs, help put up new buildings and infrastructure and assist with our scholarship and endowments,” says Br. Bernie.

One of the benchmarks in any alumni support system is Harvard University. Harvard alumni recognize and focus on financial aid as their prime goal and priority. The financial aid is dubbed as “gifts”.

According to William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid in Harvard, the gifts are symbols of the resolute and charitable passion and dedication of alumni in sharing Harvard with future students.  Aid also funds unique courses, new faculty and research initiatives.

 “It is a way of giving back; [they] got a really good education from De La Salle [and] because of the education and the values that La Salle imparted them, they use that as a way to create their own success or career,” Johnny Sy, president of the De La Salle Alumni Association (DLSAA), explains. He says that they believe that contributions are made for the love of the school and for the appreciation of training that the University offered them.

Sy admits that the process of getting solicitation or financial aid within the University is not as structured and effective compared to universities like Harvard and Stanford. “We have a process [like Harvard and Stanford], but then we do not [share the same conditions as they do],” he says.

Sy shares that solicitation in the past was less structured and less formal, usually just reliant on the financial and infrastructural contributions of notable alumni. The buildings named after Enrique Razon, Geronimo Velasco and Enrique Yuchengco, for instance, are not the fruits of a systematized solicitations system.

DLSU was not able to maximize the potential of support from the lesser-known alumni, as the old solicitations system was unable to collect substantial amounts from all DLSU alumni, regardless of the kind of contribution.

“Now, similar to Harvard, we have a software tool, that allows us to track all the potential donors and opportunities, thus allowing us to open up smaller donation opportunities for any Lasallian who wants to give amounts as small as 100, to a million pesos.”

Sy projects that they can attain huge contributions if they contact more alumni. “The target market [of the DLSAA before was just a] very small piece of a pie. Now we engage in democratizing smallest contributions: if 100 people give 100 pesos then it becomes 10,000. That is what we are after.”

DLSU does not only rely on the DLSAA for solicitations. While a key partner in reaching out to alumni, the DLSAA is mainly responsible for coordinating alumni efforts. The general responsibility of garnering alumni financial development support falls under the office of the Vice President for Development and Sponsored Research Administration.

The Vice President for Development and Sponsored Research Administration is responsible for the different programs and activities in line with the goals and objectives of the University. It is divided into different sections such as corporate and foundation relations, major donors and planned giving and annual giving schemes.

One of the key projects of the office is the Lasallian Legacy Fund. A component of the larger One La Salle Scholarship Fund, the Legacy Fund utilizes the donated software of the DLSAA as well as Lasallian telemarketers to solicit donations from all of DLSU’s alumni. As of today, solicited funds have amounted to Php 60 million from 1,500 donors.

The incentive for alumni to give is however the concern of the DLSAA. Sy shares that many alumni are skeptical when DLSU solicits. “’Ah, hinihingan lang ako nito ng pera [Oh, this one is just asking for money], that is the reaction,” shares Sy. “We are looking at increasing the incentives so that alumni feel that La Salle cares for them.”

The only incentives so far have been birthday cards. Donating to DLSU entails certain benefits, such as a Legacy Fund card. The Legacy Fund card lets alumni enter the campus, gives them free access to library facilities and entitles them to discounts at the DLSAA store.

“Many of us who have gone up the ladder and become successful whether in a particular company or by our own business thanks to the training and networking I guess La Salle has provided them, us, makes it such that 25 years later, we really find it fulfilling to give back to the school in whatever aspect whether in treasure or in talent. It is one way of giving back and I think that is the motivation for us to help this institution,” concludes Sy.