The Future of Giving

1 June 2021

The Future of Giving

Engaging young alumni with support from the Schuler Foundation.

The Schuler Foundation is well-known for supporting access to higher education through the Schuler Scholar Program—an initiative to mentor high school students from low-income backgrounds. The Foundation’s support for higher education took a new angle in 2018 with the launch of the Schuler Initiative.

CEO of the Schuler Foundation, Jack Schuler P ’97, took interest in the nationwide trend of waning philanthropic support for higher education among recent graduates. As a Carleton parent and trustee emeritus, this trend troubled Schuler—and sparked curiosity. Eager to learn more, the Foundation developed a proposal to partner with liberal arts colleges to test methodologies, analyze trends, and encourage collaborative problem-solving to address the downward slope of young alumni engagement rates.

Carleton was selected as part of the pilot with four other colleges—Bates, Middlebury, Wellesley, and Williams. The Schuler Foundation provided funding and operational support for these schools to invest in technologies and talent to focus on young alumni.

“The Schuler Initiative gave Carleton the opportunity to get curious about what moves Millennial alumni, and more importantly, permission to get creative with solutions to respond to those needs,” said Anita Fisher Egge ’94, director of the Alumni Annual Fund.

With the help of marketing firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL), Carleton surveyed alumni within the Classes of 2002–2017 to identify motivations for philanthropy and volunteerism and used the results to tailor its programming, messaging, events, and educational opportunities for recent grads.

With operational support from the Schuler Foundation, Carleton launched the Carleton Young Alumni (C’YA) event series to expand engagement opportunities for recent graduates; adopted the GiveCampus platform for fast, friction-free giving; expanded giving methods to include PayPal, Venmo, ApplePay and GooglePay; enhanced stewardship with video-driven technologies like ThankView; developed a Student Ambassador Program (StAmP) to educate students about the importance of philanthropy; and launched the Carleton Alumni Digital Network to consolidate information about virtual events and opportunities for alumni to stay connected to one another.

These investments paid dividends. Over the course of the Schuler Initiative, Carleton engaged 152 young alumni in events and activated 985 new Millennial donors. 

Though the Schuler Initiative is now complete, Carleton is only beginning to implement the changes and best practices learned over the past three years.

“These alumni will be part of the Carleton network for decades to come,” Fisher Egge said. “It’s vital to the sustainability of the college that we continue to listen and prioritize their needs and values. We’re just getting started.”

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