To:                Class of ’72 Executive Committee

From:           Tom Hoster ‘72

cc:                Sue Walsh, Chris Olofson ‘92, Traslyn Butler h72, Wendy Dunn, Maribeth Regan h72

Date:            July 13, 2022

Re:                Annual Giving Results 2021-22

I am pleased to report that the Annual Giving results for the past year for the Class of ’72 were OUTSTANDING!  (I’m sorry.  Every previous year, I have said that our performance was “outstanding”, but this year’s results deserves all caps.) 

For the Annual Giving year 2021-22 – our 50th Reunion year – the Class contributed $7,575,072, while achieving a participation rate of 74.3%, with 582 out of 783 classmates making a gift. 

The Class.  While this is a report about just one aspect of the Class of ’72 – Annual Giving – as seen in just a single year, it is really much more than that. 

Let me elaborate.

There is an aphorism in landscaping that goes something like this:  “When is best time to plant a tree?”  Answer:  “Ten years ago.” 

Similarly, we can ask ourselves, “When is the best time to start an outstanding 50th Reunion Annual Giving campaign?”  Answer:  “About twenty or thirty years ago.” 

For more than twenty-plus years, the Class of ’72 has fostered an overwhelming sense of engagement by classmates.  We see it in class trips; more than 200 classmates have participated in one or more class trips, and we have won numerous awards for having the largest gatherings of classmates outside of Reunions.  We see it in payment of class dues; more than 300 classmates pay dues each year, and we have won awards for that performance.  We see it at Reunions, where more than 320 classmates – some 40% of the Class – attended our 50th Reunion. 

We see it in service to the University, whether it is at the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Council, Friends of the Library, the National Annual Giving Committee, the Princeton Varsity Club, or the Advisory Boards of the Princeton Art Museum and McCarter Theater.

We see it in our Class of ’72 Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has provided scholarship money to more than two dozen undergraduates over the last twenty years.  We see it in the unique Class Teaching Initiative, which has supported more than twenty novel courses that would otherwise not be taught.  We see it in the Class of ’72 Civic Engagement Fund, which supports multiple summer interns who serve at non-profits around the world each summer.  And we see it on campus, where there are three buildings that bear the names of classmates, in addition to the Class of ’72 Dining Room at Whitman College and the Class of ’72 Plaza outside McCosh 10. 

The matchless performance in this year’s Annual Giving campaign is, I would argue, far from being a unique result in a single given year, but rather the product of decades of engagement by classmates in the Class. 


  1.   At $7,575,072, our dollar total was the third highest total in the history of Annual Giving for a 50th Reunion class – behind only the Classes of ’63 and ’67, and ahead of the other 78 classes that have run 50th Reunion Annual Giving campaigns, starting with the Class of 1892.  Earning the Bronze Medal, if you will, among those 81 classes is quite an accomplishment.


    One of the things that distinguishes the Class of ’72 is how flat our giving pyramid is.  (Every campaign has a “giving pyramid” – a handful of very large gifts at the top, additional moderate gifts in the middle, and many small gifts at the bottom.)  The Class of ’72 has always had a very flat giving pyramid.  The other high-performing classes have had multiple million-dollar donors at the tops of their pyramids.  The largest gift from the Class of ’72 this year was about $700,000, about 9% of the total raised, and the other gifts tailed off from there. 


    Our call to action was to ask each classmate to make the largest gift to Annual Giving that they ever have; 250 classmates did just that. 


  2.   Incredibly, our participation was the highest of all 83 classes with living alumni (that’s if you don’t count the two classes with 100% participation, one with one member and one with two members).  In addition, our participation was the highest, by far, of the fifty youngest classes. 


    Our participation rate of 74.3% marks the twenty-fourth year in a row that the Class of ’72 has been above the magic 60% level, a feat that no other class in our decade has come close to achieving. 


    Put in additional context, our Annual Giving participation was 30 percentage points above the average for the other nine classes in our decade of the seventies (which, remember, includes another major-reunion class).  Our participation rate was 74%; the average for the other nine classes in our decade was 44%. 


    This graph says it all.


    The requests that classmates make a gift in our 50th Reunion year were compelling. We had dozens of classmates make gifts this year who had not given in years.  Beyond that, we even had six classmates make gifts who had never given before:  six people who had 49 zeros, and then a gift!

    Achieving the best participation of the fifty youngest classes means that we will receive the Class of ’31 Trophy on Alumni Day in February.  It will be the third year in a row that this award has gone to the Class of ’72. 


    Annual Giving Legacy Program.  This was the first year that the Class could take advantage of the Annual Giving Legacy Program, offered by the Planned Giving office at Princeton.  We had six classmates take advantage of the program, turning one-time gifts into annuities and receiving Annual Giving credit at the same time.  The gifts from these six classmates resulted in more than $750,000 in Annual Giving credit for the Class.  

    Overall Campaign Results.  Overall, the University’s Annual Giving campaign was a success – more than $81.8 million was contributed, an all-time record for Princeton Annual Giving.  Overall participation was challenging – continuing a post-Covid hangover.  At 47.4%, participation was down somewhat from last year.  It is gratifying that the Class of ’72 could contribute positively to those numbers in the way that we did. 


  3. I have tracked our participation ramp in May and June for the last eleven years.  The graph of this year’s trajectory over that period compared to the previous ten years shows the strength of this year’s campaign.



    In particular, you can see how steep the ramp was in May (the black line).  We started out the month of May in a good position, but then finished spectacularly, with 70 more gifts in the door as of May 31st than the average of the earlier years.  

    This incredible performance is the result of an offer to match any gift 3-for-1 up to the first $50 that was given in May.  Five classmates – Marty Franks, Nikos Monoyios, Bob Murley, Skip Rankin, and Bob Scully – put up the funds. The program had three impacts:  (1) it energized the non-donors who planned to give to make their gift in May, not June; (2) it motivated people to give who might not otherwise have given; and (3) it created a buzz with the volunteers that stirred them to make their calls and follow-ups earlier in the campaign.  Sitting at May 31 with 70 more gifts than our average meant that the volunteers and I were able to spend June pursuing classmates who were less likely to give, which we did with passion and with great success.  

    Volunteers. Our results would not have been possible without the efforts of almost three dozen classmates who made calls, sent emails, and did their follow-ups. 

    Special Gifts:  The Special Gifts effort was led by Bob Murley.  No one asks for support for Princeton more effectively than Bob Murley, and no one organizes a Special Gifts effort better than Bob.  The Special Gifts team was co-chaired by John Hepburn, Nikos Monoyios, Bob Scully, and Dan Warmenhoven.  Other members of the team included Bill DeGolian, Ruby Huttner, Tom Hutton, David Kixmiller, and Skip Rankin. 


  4.   There were a number of volunteers who did double-duty:  volunteering for both Special Gifts as well as Participation.  They included Ron Brown, Daryl English, Marty Franks, Randy Harris, Charlie Hughes, Barbara Julius, Chris Loomis, Robby Robinson, and Bob Wright.


    Participation. The largest group of volunteers devoted their attention to Participation.  The group included a number of classmates who were volunteering for Annual Giving duty for the first time, and they were incredibly effective.  The Participation volunteers included Owen Curtis, Andy Dayton, Ray DuBois, Bob Hodrick, Arthur Kent, Rod McNealy, Merc Morris, Dave Napalo, Mike Schneider, Rob Smart, Ed Strauss, Tony Tichenor, Brad Walter, Bill Watts, and Art Wood, and that does not include classmates who participated in phonathons. 

    The usual phonathons at the Princeton Club in New York were off the table this year, with the Club shuttered, but Robby Robinson stepped up and organized “virtual phonathons”, with a number of volunteers making the calls from their homes – same as before, but without the camaraderie and the food. 

    It is significant, and gratifying, that the majority of our Annual Giving volunteers serve other roles in Class leadership positions – they take on their Annual Giving  responsibilities in addition to everything else they do for the Class.


  5. Our success validates, I believe, our philosophy on solicitations – that we need to make our solicitations more personal, not more numerous.  (It is a message that I try to deliver to my colleagues on the National Annual Giving Committee.)  It is tempting – and easy – to hit classmates with a never-ending barrage of Princeton letters, emails, and other solicitations; we don’t let that happen.  The Class of ’72 volunteer team embraced the philosophy of making solicitations personal, fostering and continuing personal relationships with their chosen classmates; our outstanding results reflect that approach and their efforts. 


    Not enough good things can be said about Bob Murley.  In his leadership role on the Special Gifts Committee, Bob made dozens of phone calls:  securing a Special Gifts commitment requires connecting with the classmate, establishing or re-establishing a rapport with him or her, and ultimately making the ask.    Late in the campaign, with the dollar goal exceeded, Bob turned his attention to participation calls, and landed gifts that the team had been unable to – a testament to the Murley charm that is so persuasive. 

    I personally made hundreds of phone calls, wrote 217 personal, handwritten cards (above and beyond the thank you notes), sent 121 emails, and sent out 169 texts.  In addition, I sent out 104 letters last fall about the Legacy Annual Giving Program. 

    It can be challenging to make emails personal – it can be an inherently impersonal medium.  In the emails that I sent out in the campaign, I sent them one at a time, putting the classmate’s name in the subject line (“One Month Left, Bill!”) and including a unique first line in the body (“I hope that things are good in Vermont”). 

    This is the first year that I have sent out text messages.  I had resisted the medium until this year, thinking that it was particularly invasive.  But the Class of ’74 endorsed the use of texts, and the University has a texting program called GetThru that makes the process easy.  We received at least six gifts from our texting efforts.


    This was the seventh year that I have written a personal thank you note to each of our donors – 588 of them this year.  For this year’s thank-you notes, the Annual Giving office printed up notecards for us with a photograph of the Class of 1972 Ivy plaque that occupies the flagship spot on the back of Nassau Hall, facing Cannon Green.    

    This was my 30th year as Class Agent.  It was another challenging year, as a number of classmates declined to give, following the University’s general “Woke-ness”, the defenestration of Joshua Katz, the renaming of the Woodrow Wilson School, or its seeming support of fossil fuels.  (Pick your poison.)  The volunteers and I were, however, able to convince a few of these folks to give token gifts to support class participation, which shows the strength of the Class.

    Our results this year are particularly gratifying.  Excellent participation in Annual Giving can be very hard to achieve – it seems that with every passing year, more classmates grow distant from the University and the Class.  Retrieving those classmates and bringing them back into the Annual Giving fold can be a real challenge.  But we benefit from a Class leadership that believes that our Annual Giving results are a unifying theme that brings the Class together. 

    In the Annual Giving office at Princeton, Traslyn Butler and her sidekick Wendy Dunn supplied us with everything we needed to be as productive as possible.  Since I started my Class Agent work 35 years ago, I have seen the Annual Giving office transition from mail to fax to the Internet – from printouts to downloads.  The AG Office continues to evolve with the times, now exploiting the available technology in their mission.  That said, the Class of ‘72 continues to rely heavily on handwritten communications – in both solicitations and thank-you notes – and the High Priestess of Printing, Maribeth Regan, never failed to come through for us.

    It was satisfying to make Traslyn and Maribeth honorary classmates of the Class of ’72 at Reunions in May, recognizing the contributions that they have made to the Annual Giving success of the Class of ‘72. 

    The Class of ‘72 continues to be in an excellent position to extend our string of successful Annual Giving results as we launch into our sixth decade as alumni.

    That’s it.  I’m taking the summer off.