Answers to Common Questions about the Bates Fund and Volunteering.

Q: Why should I use the Volunteer Online Tool?

A: The Volunteer Online Tool (OLT) is a very useful resource for volunteers for the following reasons:

(1) It allows volunteers to access information about their assignments at a single location from anywhere there is internet access.

(2) It is electronic and, thus, saves Bates the cost of printing and mailing paper information to class agents.

(3) The OLT also lets you know almost immediately when a gift from one of your assignees has been received by Bates.

(4) The OLT allows you to provide important information to Bates in real time on such things as the outcome of your contacts with classmates, including refusals, pledges, and other outcomes.

(5) It also allows you to update Bates on changed information about an assignee.

(6) Finally, it allows you to easily ask questions of Bates in connection with the Class Agent Program.

Q: How is Bates Fund money used?

A: Bates Fund budget relieving gifts provide support for the fundamental aspects of a Bates education: everything from faculty salaries and curriculum development to athletic team travel and dance performances.  Examples of Bates Fund support for this fiscal year include:

Financial Aid: Nearly half our students receive financial aid, and the average annual aid package is $38,200.  All financial aid at Bates is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need.  Need-based grants in the current year range from $1,000 to more than $57,000.  Bates meets 100 percent of a calculated financial need and this year has a need-based financial aid budget of about $30.6 million.

Instruction and Research: Helps compensate 200+ top-in-their-field faculty members, allowing Bates to maintain a 10:1 student to faculty ratio.

Academic Support: The Bates Fund assists in funding for necessary Library staffing, technology, and holdings to support 350,000 Library visits by students, faculty, and guests.

Student Services: The Bates Fund supports increased Career Development Center offerings and events—such as one-on-one counseling, employer information sessions, internships, and workshops on topics ranging from networking to résumé building.

Q: What types of gifts are included in the Bates Fund?

A: All alumni gifts made to the College count for alumni participation, which is a very important measure of Bates support. The Bates Fund includes all gifts that will be used for the following academic year.

Generally, Bates Fund gifts are donations that provide unrestricted support to the College.  A few areas of “restricted” giving included in the Bates Fund are: scholarships, faculty support, library, and student life.  Also, donations to specific athletic teams or the Friends of Bates Athletics are budget additive, used in the year given and are treated as part of the Bates Fund.

Donors who give $5,000 or more may name a current-use scholarship as a part of the Bates Fund’s “Named Scholars Program.” They are considered Bates Fund donations because 100% of the gift will be used the following academic year to support the College’s financial aid budget.

Most gifts that restrict usage, however, are not included in the Bates Fund.  Examples of gifts of this nature are donations made exclusively to endowed funds or capital projects.

Q: Why does a small gift matter to Bates? What’s the big deal about participation?

A:  There are several reasons why participation matters to Bates!

  • Bates’ ranking as compared to other colleges and universities in the United States is based in part on the participation percentage of alumni in the annual fund, i.e., the percentage of alumni who make gifts.  
  • Bates’ status as an “elite” institution benefits all alumni who are in the job market.  Having Bates on one’s résumé helps open doors and opportunities.  
  • Many federal and corporate grantors pay considerable attention to the participation percentage.  Thus, even a $1 gift helps, since it increases the alumni participation percentage.
  • Many Batesies go into education, medicine, research, public service, social services, etc. When you make a gift to Bates, your contribution is leveraged through the participation percentage, and helps Bates to develop many students who will become leaders and do great things in the world.

Q: Bates is asking me to “reconnect with my classmates and reconnect them with Bates.” What does that mean?

A: Even though you are calling your classmate to ask for money, first and foremost, this is a conversation about Bates and building the Bates community.  Try to be as relaxed as possible.  Of course, humor makes every conversation easier and more interesting for you and your classmate.  Knowing what’s happening on campus will give you something current to talk about, in addition to old times and catching up, and can serve as a transition to the ask.  Alumni who are knowledgeable about Bates today are much more likely to support the College.  It will help them to recognize that they are supporting the present and creating the future.  Visit the Bates Fund Volunteer Center or bates.edu/news to obtain updates before you contact a classmate.

Q: People I’m calling frequently bring up the cost of a Bates education and the articles about Bates being the most expensive school in the country. How should I respond to their concerns and questions?

A: Bates’ commitment to affordability and accessibility is a direct extension of the ethical vision that inspired the College’s founders: an education that is open to all will ensure that future leaders and visionaries emerge from every walk of life and are able to collaborate with people representing diverse cultures and viewpoints.  Bates prides itself on providing the highest quality educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds.   A Bates education is expensive to afford and expensive to provide.  That said, to reduce Bates’ tuition dependency, we need the support of alumni and parents.

Since Clayton Spencer’s inauguration as the College’s eighth president, creation of opportunities for and access to a Bates education has been a central focus.  President Spencer has been a leading policy maker and administrator working for the reformation of college financial aid.  Consequently, Bates’ commitment to financial aid has become an even stronger priority. This academic year, the budget reached $30.6 million, surpassing the $30 million for the first time.  With the announcement of an $11.5 million Catalyst Fund in October 2013 to support the presidential priorities, including financial aid, the College’s dedication to this effort only continues to grow.

Q: If a classmate makes a pledge to me, for instance, “I will give $100 to the Bates Fund this fiscal year”, will he/she receive follow up mail from the College?  If someone doesn’t pledge, but says “I will think about it”, or “I’ll make a donation, but don’t know how much yet”, will he/she receive a prompt in the mail, as well?

A: Once a specified pledge amount (e.g., $100) is entered into the Volunteer Online Tool or otherwise reported to the College, the alumni or parent will be sent a pledge reminder in the mail later in the year, if the gift has not yet been made.  Alumni or parents who make specified pledges will not receive any further solicitations, only pledge reminders.

Once an unspecified pledge is entered into the Volunteer Online Tool or otherwise reported to the College, the alumnus/a or parent will continue to receive solicitation mailings regarding the Bates Fund.  In other words, for these purposes, an unspecified pledge is treated as if no pledge had been made.

Q: What is the Mount David Society?

A: The Mount David Society (MDS) is the leadership giving society of the Bates Fund and a premiere giving program for the college. MDS members make annual commitments to Bates of $1,855 of more (or for BOLD Alumni, $100 for each year since their graduation) and their philanthropy is essential to the Bates Fund and critical to our overall fundraising success.

The 2013-2014 fiscal year marks the 10th anniversary of the Mount David Society and throughout this decade there has been tremendous growth in the impact of this leadership giving to the Bates Fund. Since its inaugural year in 2004, annual MDS gifts have increased from $2.2 million to a remarkable $4.9 million last year. During this time, MDS support has grown from 65% of the Bates Fund total to 79% of the Bates Fund last year. At the end of last year, we were proud to count 900 members of the Mount David Society. Our MDS goals for this fiscal year are ambitious: $5.5 Million and 1050 donors, and it is with your help that attaining these goals for Bates are possible.

When promoting membership in the Mount David Society, it is important to highlight the collective impact of this level of giving, that a small number of donors make up such a large portion of our annual fund. It is notable that just over 10% of donors to Bates last year gave at the MDS level, however their support was almost 80% of the Bates Fund overall.

There are two unique giving programs that are part of the Mount David Society. The first is the President’s Associates level, which acknowledges the most generous members of MDS and those that lead the way in our annual philanthropy, making gifts to the Bates Fund of $10,000 or more. These donors receive special recognition for their significant contributions to the college, which include stewardship events and correspondence from President Spencer. Increasing the number of President’s Associates donors is a focus for the college this fiscal year and will be critical the growth of the Bates Fund moving forward. We are utilizing a special matching challenge for new President’s Associates this year as a result and there will be separate talking points for that shared.

The second is the Named Scholars program. Donors who give $5,000 or more to the Bates Fund can create a current-use named scholarship for a deserving Bates student in their name or in the name of a loved one. This gift is used the following academic year to support the college’s financial aid budget through the Bates Fund.

Q: What is the Catalyst Fund?

A: In late October, an $11.5 million gift to the college from current and past members of the Board of Trustees was announced in support of President Spencer’s three main initiatives for the college. This fund is to be used over the next five years above our annual operating budget and shows confidence and trust in President Spencer as our leader and in her vision for the college.

In her remarks at the campus announcement of the Catalyst Fund, President Spencer said that “we have urgency, we have ideas and we have ambition.” This is a wonderful and significant opportunity for the college to draw on these resources as we begin earnest work in developing and enacting plans to support these priorities.

Have a question that isn’t answered on the Volunteer Center? Email volunteer@bates.edu and a Bates Fund staff member will answer your question.