Reunion gifts languish. No wonder the Alumni Department scratched Beer Trucks

✔✔✔ FC here.

When the Alumni Department announced it did not have enough money for Beer Trucks this year -- $65,000 -- a Deputy Fact Checker was immediately assigned.

What compelled this cancellation after 20 successful years of a party for new graduates and their parents?

We discovered reunion donations from holders of bachelors degrees are languishing. Big time. We have only one peak at graduate level reunion gifts, also anemic. These gifts were presented to President Brodhead during Alumni Weekend, April 8-10. The larger Annual Fund will not report until after the close of the fiscal year on June 30.

Before we write more, let us point out that the goals we are going to cite were set by the Alumni Department itself, and are often low-balled to guard against failure. We point out further that the "gifts" are actually pledges -- and we all know what happened to the biggest pledge in Duke history: Peter and Ginny Nicholas stiffed the university.

Moreover, the numbers for reunion gifts and Annual Fund gifts are very malleable. An alum could make a very substantial gift without its ever being counted for reunion or Annual Fund -- and on the other hand there have been unconfirmed reports of arm twisting to give through the structure of the Alumni Department to meet goals.

One big gift can distort the totals raised by an entire graduating class. Thus we place more credibility in the number of donors, than in the amount raised.

We point out too, that the numbers here are not audited. These numbers are posted on a reunion website that says it is updated every week.

✔✔ Consider, please, the Class of 1986, returning for its 25th anniversary. The Alumni department set a goal of 752 graduates making pledges, but only 398 responded. The Class of 2001, celebrating its 10th reunion, had a goal of 450 members making pledges, but only 247 responded.

The complete Fact Checker compilation of undergraduate statistics appears below.

On the graduate level, we can report on the Law School Class of 1966, observing its 45th anniversary. The Class has 90 or more members who are alive, only 16 of whom showed up.

Hoping for pledges from 50 percent of the class, only 35 percent responded.

The actual dollars pledged are virtually impossible to trace. The class website gives numbers totally inconsistent with those contained in the e-mail and we shall spare you both versions.


Class of 1961
50th reunion
Participation goal - 331 members.
Actual - 278
Pledge goal - $1 million.
Actual - $913,740

Class of 1966
Participation goal - 312 members.
Actual -258
Pledge goal - $800,000
Actual - $635,047

Class of 1971

Participation goal - 389
Actual - 306
Pledge goal - $1.1 million.
Actual - $957,287

Class of 1976

Participation goal - 444
Actual - 314
Pledge goal - $1 million.
Actual - $710,316

Class of 1981

Participation goal - 500.
Actual - 378
Pledge goal - $3 million.
Actual - $4.3 million

Class of 1986 - 25th anniversary

Participation goal - 752
Actual - 398
Pledge goal - $2 million.
Actual - $1.9 million

Class of 1991

Participation goal - 534
Actual - 314
Pledge goal - $1,255,000
Actual - $1.1 million

Class of 1996

Participation goal - 377
Actual - 270
Goal - $1.2 million
Actual - $1.03 million

Class of 2001 - 10th anniversary

Participation goal - 450
Actual - 247
Goal - $750,000
Actual - $632,731

Class of 2006

Participation goal - 500
Actual - 344
Goal - $150,000
Actual - $176,050

We are working on comparisons -- to prior years, and to schools we count as our peers.

Thank you for reading FC.