Our thoughts on Charitable Giving to the USAFA Endowment
Without rehashing all the strife the AOG has been through since our graduation over 30 years ago, we think it's clear that the new relationship between the USAFA Endowment and the AOG has been a very positive development. The AOG, even in the midst of its turmoil over governance and priorities, has consistently supported USAFA in general and cadets in particular by funding and sponsoring first class programs and construction projects that would otherwise be impossible using only appropriated funds.
As classes approach milestone reunions, most form specific campaigns to raise funds for some highly-visible "legacy" project. Accordingly, as we approach our 30th reunion, your reunion committee has likewise been engaged in coming up with suggestions for a "class gift".
Big, splashy projects are nice – they get the press and the recognition of others. You're probably aware how well known the Class of '73 is within the cadet wing for sponsoring the National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS). Ask cadets who the biggest donor to the Endowment is and many would likely answer '73, because their crest is on all the NCLS slides. But the reality is that '73 ranks 11th in cumulative giving among USAFA classes. Six classes have more Sabre Society donors (minimum $1,000 per year to the Air Force Academy Fund) than '73.
So rather than big and splashy, we'd suggest we should instead be quietly yet overwhelmingly influential. And it doesn't take headline-worthy donations from each of us to make a huge difference in the Endowment's bottom line. While the big donors like Harry Pearce ('64) and other captains of industry make the news, the truth is that the small, steady donors are the ones who provide the bulk of donations in aggregate. We've seen this time & again in other capital campaigns we've been part of. The big dogs make the papers, get the buildings named after them, and help build interest and momentum. But the rank & file small donors are the ones who put campaigns over the top.
OK, we don't have a bunch of high-rolling captains of industry among us to make big donations, so the rest of us will have to do it with our modest contributions. As of August 2012, the Endowment's stats indicated just over 11% of us have donated to the Endowment, and just 12 of our 815 living classmates (less than 1.5%) are Sabre Society donors. Contrast that with the class of '82 from the Naval Academy with around 24% making donations at some level.
We'd offer that a humble goal would be to increase our class' recurring donor participation rate to at least 50% by next year this time. At that rate, there would only be one class ('61) with a higher participation rate (51%), and the next closest class ('66) would trail us by over 12 percentage points! We won't even go so far as to recommend an amount. But realize that just $20 a month from half the class would amount to nearly $100,000 of support per year! Donations at the Sabre Society level or higher from those of us who can swing it would greatly magnify that amount. Don't feel that you're "rich" enough to be a Saber Society donor? Do the math. That $1,000 per year is just over $83 per month. That's about what dinner for two in a nice restaurant would cost, and is probably less than your cell phone bill.
So we'd ask you to seriously consider participating as a regular donor to the USAFA Endowment, on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Help us reach (or exceed!) the 50% participation goal and sustain it over time. Donations are fully tax-deductible. We've reached the point in our lives when we've reaped the benefits of our military or civilian careers, and in most every case that career was enabled and kick started by our four years at the Blue Zoo.
It's time to give back in proportion to what we've received. Here are a couple of quick online giving options. Please consider a monthly donation for an extended amount of time.
(annual donors of $1,000 or more are recognized in the Sabre Society)
Leave a legacy, and let's help raise up the next generation of USAF and civilian leaders. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com for additional details.
Jim Ratti '82, Class Historian
Jim Demerest '82, Class President
USAFA Class of 1982