10 Colleges With the Most Alumni Donors

Katy Hopkins
December 18, 2012

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Most students have to pay their colleges to attend--and after graduation, some keep sending checks.

For Princeton University graduates, the practice is more common than not. An average of 62.6 percent of alumni made financial donations to the top-ranked National University over two recent years, Princeton reported to U.S. News.

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That's significantly higher than the nationwide average of 13 percent, according to data provided by 1,211 ranked colleges in a 2012 survey. To calculate each school's alumni giving rate, U.S. News averages school reports of the percentage of all alumni who graduated with an undergraduate degree and donated funds in 2009-2010 with those who did in 2010-2011. Donations can be in any size-- $5 is counted the same as $500, as long as it came from a graduate who left the institution with a bachelor's degree.

With the exception of Princeton, the 10 colleges with the most active alumni donor bases are National Liberal Arts Colleges, including top-ranked Williams College. At that Massachusetts institution, an average of 57.5 percent of grads donated money over the two-year period.

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Alumni giving rates are not just a gauge of alumni satisfaction; they account for 5 percent in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings methodology. Schools that are designated as Unranked by U.S. News, because they do not submit enough data for a numerical rank to be calculated, were not considered for this report.

These are the 10 schools where the highest average percentages of alums made donations to their alma maters over the two-year period considered.

School (state) Percentage of alumni who donate U.S. News rank & category
Princeton University (NJ) 62.6 1, National Universities
Thomas Aquinas College (CA) 58.9 82, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Carleton College (MN) 58.2 8, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Williams College (MA) 57.5 1, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Amherst College (MA) 57.3 2, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Centre College (KY) 54.9 52, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Middlebury College (VT) 54.7 4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Davidson College (NC) 53.4 12, National Liberal Arts Colleges
College of the Holy Cross (MA) 51.1 32, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bowdoin College (ME) 50.2 6, National Liberal Arts Colleges

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find alumni giving rates for every institution, complete rankings, and much more.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The alumni giving rates above are correct as of Dec. 18, 2012.