Concordia denies donations have dropped

Student paper stands by story alleging alumni are closing their wallets after Woodsworth controversy

Concordia University is disputing allegations that alumni donations have dropped off significantly in the wake of president Judith Woodsworth’s departure. Claims that donations were down by up to 80 per cent appeared in last week’s issue of student newspaper the Link.

In a letter to the editor sent to the Link and Maclean’s on Campus, director of annual giving, Brad Skog, and call centre manager, Bonnie Kay, write that:

The article draws false conclusions by comparing the results of calls made during October and November (when the call centre was soliciting individuals who contribute regularly to Concordia) with January, when the bulk of their efforts have been concentrated on alumni who have never given to Concordia. Naturally, the results will differ and attempting to equate the two groups makes no sense.

Indeed, when non-donors were called during the fall semester, donor participation was almost identical (within 0.5 percent) and in January, the average gift actually increased. With respect to donations falling to “$50 on some days,” there is a grain of truth. The shift on January 10, 2011 only resulted in $30 because it was cancelled shortly after calling started due to technical difficulties with the call centre computers.

But Link editor-in-chief Justin Giovannetti is standing behind the story, which he co-wrote.

The Link did its due diligence when reporting on the story,” Giovannetti wrote in an email. “The university had four days to respond to the story while it was being written and didn’t respond until after the national media picked up on it, the day after it was published.”

He adds that, “while the university’s position might explain a larger drop in donations, it does not explain why staff reported that callers turned down donating due to mismanagement at the higher administrative level.”

At the moment, everything seems to be pretty anecdotal. Other members of Concordia’s student press told me that alumni have gone on the record saying that they’re reconsidering future donations because of the Woodsworth situation but at least some call centre employees have disputed the article’s claims.

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