Alumni survey: YDS grads fully on board with email

By John Lindner, Director of External Relations

Ninety-eight percent of YDS alums now use email and 79 percent check their email at least a few times a day.   This was just one of the many findings from the fall 2009 survey of YDS alumni, the first survey of alumni in nearly a decade.
A total of 1,247 alumni responded to the survey out of 6,374 alumni on record, resulting in approximately a 20 percent return.  Of the respondents, 971 received M.Div or B.D. degrees, while just 197 M.A.R. graduates returned surveys.  A large majority, 82 percent, said that being involved with YDS is “very important” or “somewhat important.”
As could be expected, YDS alumni most frequently serve as clergy or educators.

  • 34 percent (385 of 1133 respondents) work as clergy
  • 325 or 26 percent indicated that they work in a congregation or parish
  • 26 percent (299 of 1133) are retired
  • 14 percent  (153 of 1133) work as teachers, professors or lecturers
  • Of retired alumni, 51 percent  (152 of 299) worked as clergy before retiring, and 18 percent (53 of 299) as teachers, professors, or lecturers
  • Of those who have received an M.Div degree, 46 percent currently work as clergy, which is the most popular profession (317 of 693). Of those holding an M.A.R. degree, the most common profession is teacher, professor, or lecturer at 22 percent (44 of 198).
  • The top four denominations for alumni: United Church of Christ (224 or 18 percent of respondents), Episcopal (209 or 17 percent), United Methodist (175 or 14 percent), and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (107 or 9 percent)

One especially interesting finding was the profile of the size of the congregations where YDS graduates work.  Of those working in congregations:

  • 35 percent  (or 109) work in congregations where 50-149 worshipers attend weekly services
  • 24 percent work in congregations where 150-249 worshipers attend weekly services
  • 26 percent work in congregations where 250 or more worshipers attend weekly services

While most YDS alums are frequent users of email, they are engaged in “social networking” on the internet in more limited numbers:

  • Over 75 percent of respondents never use Twitter or blogs
  • Facebook is also used infrequently. Only 15 percent of respondents check Facebook at least a few times a day. Fourteen percent check Facebook several times per week or several times per month each. And, 44 percent never use Facebook.

These and other findings form the basis of a report to be reviewed by the Alumni Board at the spring meeting.   Board President Mary Ellen O’Driscoll commented: “As a Board it is important for us to understand ways to best serve the Alumni through programs and styles of communication.  This survey helps us understand more fully the needs and preferences of our YDS Alumni.”

Tabulating survey results was Joan Javier ’12 M.Div.