Alumni Board Development Committee embraces new giving options

The Development Committee of the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board had a full agenda during a day-long meeting in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 31—at a time when the Divinity Tomorrow capital campaign is entering the final few months leading up to the campaign close on June 30. Several new ideas generated substantial interest and excitement at the session, including recommendations for marketing YDS’s new online giving capabilities, which for the first time include the option of making monthly or quarterly payments.

Henry and OakFor a number of years, donors to YDS have been able to make gifts online.  But until now those gifts have had to be one-time gifts.  Now, donors can choose either to make a one-time gift, or recurring gifts over the course of the year—an especially attractive option for alumni and friends who wish to make a donation but do not have the means to make the gift all at once—on the YDS web site at

Elijah Heyward ’07 M.A.R. remarked that young people favor the giving through regular small monthly credit card charges.

The committee’s chair, Jeff Oak ’85 M.Div., ’86 S.T.M., ’96 Ph.D., now vice president and corporate responsibility officer of Bon Secours Health System, pointed out the need to explore ways to engage the growing population of alums who serve beyond the parish and classroom in both nonprofit as well as in other fields such as law, healthcare and business.
As of the end of January, the capital campaign total, including YDS’ Episcopal Church affiliate, Berkeley Divinity School, stood at $34 million approaching the campaign goal of $38 million.  The remaining months of the campaign will focus on five primary areas, in addition to the top priority of scholarships for students with financial need: Joint Degree Program In Religion and Environmental Stewardship, Educational Leadership and Ministry Program, Global Education and Partnerships, Roman Catholic Student Scholarships, and Congregational Leadership and Professional Preparation.

Development CommitteeIn addition to Oak and Heyward, committee members attending the Jan. 31 meeting, held at George Washington University, were Alumni Board President Jerry Henry ’80 M.Div.; Damon Bradley ’68 B.D.; James Evans ’75 M.A.R.; and Gigi Mooney ’79, M.Div. The meeting was hosted by Matt Banks ’01 M.A.R. YDS staff attending were John Lindner, director, Department of External Relations; Gail Briggs, director of alumni relations; Connie Royster ’72 B.A., director of development; and Emily Blakeslee, administrative assistant. 

“Throughout the capital campaign, our focus has been on our students and how to ensure them the Financial Aid they need to attend YDS,” said Briggs following the meeting.  “We are deeply grateful to our alumni for giving to the Annual Fund, as every dollar they share is used exclusively for financial aid.    The new online giving feature on our web site makes giving even easier and enables us to make a continuing commitment to the students who will become our future leaders.”

The Committee grappled with a number of other issues at the meeting also, including, among others:

  • The current state of fundraising in theological education
  • Getting a better understanding YDS’s alumni base, looking at: the overall number of alumni; where alumni live in the US and abroad; the breakdown of YDS alumni by degrees, i.e., M.Div., M.A.R., and S.T.M.; giving patterns of YDS alumni from particular decades; overall trends in alumni giving to YDS
  • The value of grouping alumni by areas of interest and affinities in outreach efforts
  • The relationship of alumni with YDS over time, beginning with their student years, through their first years post-graduation, and the decades that follow.
  • Plans for YDS events in two-three major metropolitan areas
  • Updates on YDS’s Annual Fund, Capital Campaign, and Planned Giving


Posted: 02/07/2011