YDS capital campaign close to $30 million heading into final year

As the Yale Tomorrow capital campaign approaches the beginning of its fifth and final year, Yale Divinity School is just shy of the $30 million mark toward a goal of $38 million.   While gifts of $1 million or more have provided a foundation for the YDS campaign, smaller gifts from alumni have played a significant role as well in reaching the $30 million milestone.

Sources of Giving“The campaign has had a wonderfully sustained momentum,” said Director of Development Constance Royster.  “It’s a testament to our YDS alums and friends. We now have to make that final push to the finish line, and that will take everyone’s power to stretch a little or a little more.”

Royster pointed out that approximately $10 million of the funds raised came from Divinity School alums.

“The typical YDS alum has limited resources,” noted Royster.  “We asked them to make an annual gift plus consider a planned gift or including YDS in their will.”  The focus on planned gifts – where a donor makes a gift that then generates income for the donor – and bequests became the Divinity School’s “Gift of a Lifetime” campaign. “The growing commitment of planned gifts and bequests have made a huge difference,” she said.

One very successful “mini-campaign” within the framework of the overall campaign was the Divinity School Challenge, in which two Yale College alumni established a dollar-for-dollar matching fund that yielded the maximum $1 million based on gifts primarily from alumni.

Under the Challenge, which focused on scholarship aid, there were contributions to 16 new or existing funds. Of those, six are newly established endowed scholarship funds.  Four gifts honor Yale University and Yale Divinity School legends, including University Chaplains Sidney Lovett and William Sloane Coffin Jr., former YDS Dean Leander Keck, and former YDS Professor Paul Minear.

The YDS Class of 1959 celebrated its 50th reunion in October by establishing the Class of 1959 Global Opportunities Fund, a scholarship fund intended to give divinity students educational experiences abroad as well as to bring international students to YDS.  Global Opportunities Fund donations by three class members were eligible for the Challenge, helping to make this reunion gift the largest ever at YDS.

Six of the Challenge gifts were planned gifts, including two from alumni well into their 90s. These planned gifts gave visibility to the Gift of a Lifetime program, which provides alumni an important alternative to current giving.

As the end of the fiscal year approaches, YDS is on track to meet this year’s goal for the Annual Fund, according to John Lindner, director of the Department of External Relations.  All Annual Fund gifts go toward scholarship aid and also count toward the capital campaign goal.

“Every gift, large and small, helps to move us closer to the goal,” said Lindner.  “Beyond the dollar goal is the ultimate purpose of the campaign – to better meet the needs of our students.”

As of April 30, 1,913 YDS alumni had contributed 80% of the $400,000 goal for the 2009-2010 Annual Fund, according to Director of Alumni Relations Carmen Germino.


Dean Harold Attridge points with appreciation to the growth in financial aid for students, the number one campaign goal. “We could not have grown our financial aid without the generosity of YDS alumni,” said the dean.

A major emphasis of Attridge’s tenure as dean has been to increase the amount of scholarship aid available to students.  In 2002-03, scholarship aid as a percentage of tuition revenue stood at 57 percent.  That figure now stands at 82 percent, with the ultimate goal of reaching 100 percent.

In the remaining year of the campaign, efforts will focus on a number of different initiatives, including:

  • An International Students Scholarship program to provide full tuition and board to international students
  • Leadership Scholarships for students of particular promise.
  • Funding for student internships and fieldwork experience.
  • Funding in support of YDS’s International Travel Seminar program and Berkeley Divinity School’s Global Initiative.