Last week the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced it’s plans for a $10m donation from Douglas Berthiaume and his wife, Diana. The gift will be used to “create a “world-class” entrepreneurship center within its business school.”
Berthiaume currently serves as the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Waters Corp. Between 1990 and 1994, he was also the President of the Waters Chromatography Division of Millipore Corporation, the predecessor business of the Company.
Berthiaume is an avid philanthropist and the Chairman of the Children’s Hospital Trust Board, and a trustee of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center and The University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation.
His relationship with UMass Amherst goes back a long way. He graduated from the University’s Isenberg School of Management, in 1971 and is closely involved with the school’s fundraising campaign “Umass Rising”. In the past both he and his company have made sizable donations to UMass including a $5 million donation in 2006 in support of initiatives at the business school.
Did UMass just get lucky?
Alumni have always been a rich pool for Universities looking for prospective donors. However what is it that makes an alumnus make the leap from being a $100 donor to a $1m dollar donor? Of course part of it is capacity – but the other more intangible part is a sense of connection. Successful alumni feel a natural connection to the schools that helped them achieve their goals. However if relationships are not cultivated, that sense of connection can easily dissipate.
UMass Amherst did not just get lucky – they have been actively maintaining a strong relationship with Berthiaume throught the years – culminating in an invitation to become a trustee. His sense of connection is not merely sentiment, it is formed by real and current relationships with people at the school. So when it comes to deciding where to donate, his choice is made much simpler because he has a trusted organization already in mind .