Inspiring a Lifetime of Consecutive Giving
Harold C. Ripley graduated from Dartmouth College in 1929. He was famous for his bow ties, his sense of humor, and his loyalty to Dartmouth. In fact, “Rip” gave to the College through the annual fund for 83 consecutive years—from his graduation in 1929 until his death in September 2011, at the age of 104.
The Harold C. Ripley ’29 Society was formed in 2009 to honor Rip and to recognize alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to giving through the Dartmouth College Fund every year since graduation. Today, there are more than 5,000 members.
One of the things that makes this recognition society unique is that it’s as much about looking forward as it is about looking back. Prior to graduation, members of Dartmouth’s senior class are asked to join the Ripley Society with a gift to the annual fund and a pledge to support Dartmouth every year after graduation (no requirement to guarantee a dollar amount). By making a gift and signing a pledge card, seniors become—and will remain—members of the Ripley Society unless they fail to make a gift one year.
Unlike a lot of university “loyalty societies,” the program isn’t marketed to the general alumni population. The Ripley Society is only promoted to students and alumni in the first year after graduation. If a senior doesn’t sign up before graduation, they have one more chance to join during their first year post-graduation. If they don’t join then, they’ve missed their opportunity.
The program was successful from the beginning and helped the college to increase participation of the recent graduation classes from around 30% to over 50%. Today, it continues to be an important part of Dartmouth’s annual giving efforts. It has a dedicated webpage which includes a space for members to share stories about how Dartmouth impacted their life and why they support the college every year.
Rip once told a Dartmouth staff member that he knew he wouldn’t be around in 100 years, so he wanted to give to an organization that would be around and would be doing good in the world. He knew that would be Dartmouth. What makes his story even more special is that one of the last things Rip did was make a gift to his alma mater. He passed away on a Friday and the college received his gift through the mail the following Monday.
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