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Yale 62

Target Your Giving and Feel Good

By Roman L. Weil

Within a single 24-hour period, one of the Class Communicators asked me to write this about giving to Yale and President Salovey sent one of his thinly-disguised solicitation emails. I responded that many classmates will find the following patronizing because you already know it. Beyond that, we all know that Yale spends virtually all of its fund-raising energy going after the large gifts. This note addresses small ones.

At the level most of us contemplate giving to Yale, Yale doesn’t care where we direct the funds. About forty years ago, I asked the Treasurer’s Office how large a gift one has to make before “they notice.” Adjusting for market increases and cost of living changes, the number was about $500,000. Less than that is a rounding error for them. President Salovey acknowledges as much when he lets us know that the most recent fiscal year’s fund raising exceeded $650 million.

So, think about what meant the most to you about Yale. For me, it was my residential college, Berkeley College, and my master’s mentoring. (“Roman, you have insufficient deference to make it in the corporate world; consider being an academic.”) For you it might have been the Daily News, or WYBC, or the Crew or club sport, or varsity sport, or your singing group, or Glee Club, or your secret society, or Professor X in Department Y, or the Dramat, or …. (If you have the inclination to respond to this note, let us know what element of Yale was most important to you.)

Give to that outfit and you’ll enjoy making that gift more than giving to the amorphous Alumni Fund — general Yale giving. Your small gift won’t matter to Yale, but might matter to your place. Yale won’t care. I’m a bit surprised that Yale doesn’t tell us this. You might have to work a bit to get the funds to your preferred spot and still have the funds count for the Class of ’62, but you can likely accomplish that. One of our classmates got his gift to count for two classes—ours and the class he graduated with. He just had to ask, then insist.

I get more pleasure out of directing my modest gifts to Berkeley College than to the general, unspecific Yale Alumni Fund.

2 comments to Target Your Giving and Feel Good

  • Lee Bolman

    I once followed Roman’s advice before he gave it. Back in 1968, fresh out of graduate school and having little spare cash, I cobbled together enough to send a small check, maybe $50, to Yale for “any purpose tending to promote undergraduate coeducation.” Well below rounding error, but I was surprised to get a very nice note from Sam Chauncey thanking me for my support. I only learned later that Sam was running into significant headwinds as he tried to nudge the university, particularly Kingman Brewster, to get on board for that initiative. I can’t take very much credit for his eventual success, but I can confirm Roman’s thought that it can be very satisfying to direct a gift to something you care about.

    • Roman Weil

      Thanks, Lee. Lee’s narrative reminds me that I was not a fan of Brewster’s. When Yale announced he was, finally thank goodness, stepping down, I sent a $50 contribution with the notation: “To celebrate Kingman Brewster’s retirement.” I received an acknowledgment: “Thank you for your gift honoring Kingman Brewster on his retirement.”