Do Alumni Give Back? Tapping an Untapped Market
Alumni giving is a hot topic for Jewish day schools. Schools are building better alumni databases, grads are becoming more successful in their careers, and day schools are recognizing that alumni are a hugely untapped market for giving. So why aren’t more former day school kids becoming donors? Are they giving to other Jewish organizations? Do they value tzedakah? Comparing JDS alumni to alumni of non-Jewish independent schools helps us investigate these important questions.
Data from the schools who participated in the PEJE-sponsored ISACS–MS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States–Measuring Success) Alumni Impact Surveys last year show that alumni are generally satisfied with their JDS experience: 45 percent of alumni strongly agree that they would recommend their Jewish day school to a friend.
Not only are JDS alumni extremely satisfied with their experience, but they are also more invested than ISACS alumni in key areas related to philanthropy: commitment to religious/ethnic community, commitment to charitable giving, and commitment to social action.
And yet—and yet!—when it comes down to actual giving priorities, day schools are ranked lower than their independent counterparts by their alumni. Fewer JDS grads report that giving back to their schools is one of their top three charity priorities. Interestingly, a similar gap is seen between JDS and ISACS alumni when asked whether their schools taught them about the need to give back financially to the school, with more ISACS alumni agreeing that they had this experience:
What Can We Learn From All This?
The data shows that the foundation for alumni giving is there for Jewish day schools (high commitment to charitable giving), but schools need to talk to their graduates about giving back before they graduate or leave.
What is your school doing to instill in students a commitment to giving back? Consider these questions:
- Are you building a culture of philanthropy among your students?
- Do your students understand that the entire JDS community—faculty, staff, board, and donors—must be involved in the work of development?
- How does your school ensure that students and community members alike understand the concept of “shared responsibility” for Jewish education?
Feel free to comment below—we’d love to hear your thoughts!