As a student at Dickinson College, I learned the important role philanthropy played in supporting my education by participating in the schools phonathon. I realized that a college’s budget is not met by tuition dollars alone, but through the support of generous alumni, parents, faculty members and friends. Shouldn’t all students understand the total cost of their education? And shouldn’t they be given an opportunity to express their gratitude?
Inspired by Bryn Mawr’s ‘Give a Hoot’ day, each spring Dickinson hosts ‘Rush to Thank’, a campus-wide event to recognize those who have financially supported the college and educate students on the spirit of philanthropy that shapes their experience. The name harps back to the schools founding by one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Rush.
On March 27, Dickinson staff members posted hundreds of signs throughout campus, offering thoughts shared by alumni about why they give back to the college, as well as information about the ways in which donations are used. Everyone on campus that had donated to this year’s annual fund received a pin to acknowledge that they are one of the 5,769 who have made a gift. They were asked to proudly wear the pin to celebrate the tradition of philanthropy at Dickinson. These combined efforts promote visibility and spur conversation among students. I spoke to Nicki Redmond, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, who was instrumental in starting this campaign, which is now in its third year. Nicki explained that the “goal was to create a way to positively celebrate philanthropy on campus.”
Grateful students were invited to express their appreciation by signing a thank-you card in the school’s student union building. Cookies, coffee, and tea are made available to all that participate. This year, over 400 cards were signed and sent to donors. Rush to Thank has been well received on campus, and I believe it’s a great way to educate students that don’t participate in the annual fund’s phonathon on the total resources that sustain their educational experience. You can launch a similar campaign by dedicating a day to sharing stories from alumni about why they support their alma mater and facilitating a thank-you note campaign on campus.
Does your school already educate students on the important role philanthropy plays in shaping their educational experience? We would love to hear about it!
I’m an alumnae of Dickinson College and soon to be student at the Startup Institute Boston on the marketing track. For the past few years, I’ve worked as a major gifts fundraiser for a political advocacy organization in Washington, DC. I’ll be helping out at EverTrue by writing blog posts for next few weeks before I begin at SIB. You can find me on twitter @dacunhac.