December 20, 2006

Legacy Admissions and Giving

In many of the models I have built predicting annual and planned giving to universities, multiple alumni relationships within a family is a consistent predictor. Annual and planned gifts tend to be more loyalty-based than investment-based outright major gifts. These relationships are a strong sign of loyalty.

Catherine Rampell, a Princeton senior, discusses the controversial topic of legacy admissions. When a factor is consistently predictive, should there be an emphasis to broaden this factor? If multiple alumni-relationships are predictive of giving, accepting family of alumni over equivalent individuals with no such relationship seems like a natural application. Is this a way to go? Catherine thinks it might not be all bad. She says:

Contrary to popular characterizations, not all alumni are rich, and proponents of legacy preference do not expect a one-to-one financial return for each admit helped by his legacy status, since the school does not tell families whether their legacy status had any effect on their admissions results. But helping out a few alumni kids on the cusp is a benign gesture that can help grease annual giving's wheels nonetheless.

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