Trojan Marching band players playing trumpet



USC Leads Pac-12 in Alumni Giving

Strong support from graduates helps USC climb rankings of elite schools for alumni giving.

November 30, 2016 Lynn Lipinski

USC’s undergraduate alumni have set a new record for giving: 42 percent of them donated to USC this year. That places USC ahead of most private research universities for alumni participation and slots USC in first place among Pac-12 universities.

The previous record was 41 percent, set in 2015.

In the case of alumni giving, every donor counts, and all gifts—no matter what amount—make a difference, explains Iyoni Rice, executive director of university annual giving. About 90 percent of gifts made to the Campaign for USC are less than $1,000 each. “Ongoing support from alumni keeps the Trojan Family connected across generations and united in a common purpose: to help USC excel,” Rice says. “Record-breaking alumni participation years like this one also help to advance USC’s academic programs, vibrant campus life, research, scholarship, health care and creative work of consequence to the world.”

Alumni participation has increased annually since the launch of the campaign in 2011. The first-ever USC Day of SCupport last May—which rallied alumni and other supporters from around the world to support the USC programs they’re most passionate about—created a 24-hour wave of USC pride. The fundraising initiative used social media and technology that turned participating alumni into enthusiastic ambassadors for the university.

“I was amazed at the transformation that USC has undergone over the past 30 years. I had to be a part of it by contributing to its future,” says Daniel Ast MBA ’86, who recently donated to the USC Marshall School Endowed Scholarship Fund. It was his first gift to USC, spurred by a recent campus tour with his daughter.

Alumni giving is important for the future of USC’s academic programs and student scholarships, but it also brings another important benefit: It helps gauge the satisfaction of a university’s graduates. Alumni success was a key measure used by the Wall Street Journal when it recently ranked USC 15th in the nation.

It also serves as a lens through which prospective students, parents, foundations and others view the quality of the institution. Patrick Auerbach EdD ’08, associate senior vice president for alumni relations, tracks the numbers closely to measure alumni approval.

And the numbers show the Trojan Family has a lot to be proud of. Alumni support makes up about 38 percent of the total given to USC during its campaign—another outstanding measure that beats the average. According to the Council for Aid to Education, alumni giving to U.S. universities comprised under 27 percent of the billions raised for higher education in 2015.

“By giving back to their alma mater, our alumni help to keep USC on its current ascent as one of the finest universities in the world,” Auerbach says. “Alumni giving is an important vote of confidence in the direction that USC has charted for the future.”