Seniors pledge gifts to scholarship fund

by Richard Lazarus | 6/10/01 5:00am

"Hello, this is so-and-so calling for so-and-so. Is she in?"

Graduating seniors probably won't be hearing Green Corps callers from the Blunt Alumni Center soliciting donations for the Dartmouth College Fund for another five years, but the drive for donations from the Class of 2001 has already begun with this year's Senior Gift program.

Each year, seniors are asked to pledge money to be donated over the next several years. This year's donations will be collected next June.

If current pledges by this year's seniors reach or exceed the goal of $15,000, a scholarship for that amount will be given to a member of the class of 2003, who will be a senior the year after the money is collected from '01s.

Otherwise, the money will go in into the "current use unrestricted" fund for financial aid.

Organizers had not yet finished counting this year's Senior Gift pledges at press time, but Christopher Boffoli, the associate director of the Dartmouth College Fund and the current manager of the program, said he expects to meet the $15,000 goal.

Rather than quantity, however, the focus for now is on organizing a system of interested '01's to reach out for donations later. Thus, two goals are to get all of the pledge cards completed and to achieve a participation rate of 50 percent for all seniors.

"The Senior Gift program is really just a kick off," Boffoli said.

He explained that the focus of Senior Gift program is on getting the largest number of students to donate, no matter how much. The big drive for money will not start until seniors are settled, probably after their 5th reunion.

The best way to ask for money, according to Boffoli, is for students to ask people in their class.

As such, the Senior Gift drive is structured with the five Alumni Fund Interns appointing forty "Captains" who appoint 200 "Agents," each of which is given a list of prospective donators and a pledge card for each of them.

Students have also been solicited by a few mass e-mails aimed at those not contacted by people they know.

"We have very large and diverse classes heading out in to the world in diverse directions. It's just a lot easier to organize them before they leave," Boffoli said.

A variety of factors influence donations and participation rate, Boffoli said, including leadership and class cohesiveness.

For example, he said it would be unfair to compare the Class of '98 with the Class of '99, which graduated right after the Student Life Initiative was announced.

Donation soliciting may take place every year of an alumni's life. Boffoli is set on making the first few years a success.

"It's the challenge we have every year to try to educate students on philanthropy at Dartmouth," Boffoli said. "We're well respected in the [alumni donation] industry for the success we have. Part of that is due to the passion of the alumni and the commitment they have here."