Giving Tuesday Dec03

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Giving Tuesday

• Beyond Tuition •

In honor of Giving Tuesday, a nationwide day of philanthropy held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we ponder the question: Why is my kid’s college asking me for money when I just wrote a big tuition check? Here’s an explanation from Connecticut College’s Director of Annual Giving.

Six months ago I returned to my alma mater to direct its Annual Giving program. Why? Because I value the education I received and I want to ensure current and future students are able to get the same kind of education.

My career is fundraising – in private schools until my recent return to the institution that educated me, Connecticut College. Since my graduation, I have volunteered for both the alumni and admission offices at Connecticut College. As a volunteer, I was continually blown away by the outstanding work of students and faculty. With my experience in the educational fundraising world, I jumped at the chance to return to the institution that gave me so much.

I am passionate about what I do because I can see the impact each and every day, and I believe that when education is well-funded the potential is limitless. Often, I get caught up in my own excitement when I talk about the good work happening on my college campus, and I know that the same is happening on campuses around the country.

I get a variety of questions when I talk with people about what I do. Most frequently I hear, “Why should I give, I just wrote a check for tuition?”

Perhaps you have a similar question. You’ve just sent your student off to college. You’ve paid tuition, purchased books and a meal plan, outfitted the new dorm room and then paid the travel expenses to get your student there. As the semester gets rolling, you receive a request in the mail asking you to support the college or university’s Annual Fund. You’re asking yourself, “Should I?”

Yes. And, on this #GivingTuesday, I am pleased to tell you why you should write another check to your student’s institution – and why you should feel good about it.

There are few, if any, educational institutions with enough money to operate each year without help from the wider community. At most colleges and universities, tuition only covers about 80 percent of the actual cost to educate each student. This means every student receives a discounted price to attend his or her institution. This gap between the tuition and actual cost of education is funded through the school’s endowment – and its Annual Fund.

The endowment is the school’s permanent investment fund. We use the income from that fund to support student programming and other campus expenses. We don’t touch the principle. Equally important is a college’s Annual Fund (and the focus of this post), for it provides the current-year operating support for every program and person on campus. Each year, the institution needs to replenish these funds and it relies on alumni, parents, friends and foundations for this funding. Your support of the Annual Fund is one of the most immediate ways you can help strengthen your institution. Because the dollars go to work immediately, they support the experience your son or daughter is having this year.

Beyond the support it provides your student’s college, your Annual Fund contribution can help the college attract larger gifts. Many foundations, for example, use participation as a metric to determine whether to support an institution. Foundations regard high participation in fundraising programs as a high degree of satisfaction, and therefore a sound investment for the foundation’s support.

My hope for education as a whole is that decisions can be based on what is best for the students’ educational experience, without budget constraints. A lofty goal, indeed, but we begin by reaching our fundraising goals. I know you’re counting on your student’s institution to prepare your son or daughter for the world beyond academia. With proper funding, that is exactly what your child’s institution can provide: the opportunity to learn, create and grow. Your additional support will help make that happen.

I hope you will support the institutions with which you are connected – however you can – remembering that participation matters.

I make my Annual Fund contribution each year in honor of one of the most influential faculty members from my time at Connecticut College. His mentorship over the years has meant so much and for that I am indebted to him and to the college for making the opportunity possible.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, perhaps you will take a moment and make your gift in honor of your son or daughter or that of a person on campus who is making a difference in his or her life.

Anna E. Longstaff is a graduate of Connecticut College and is currently the Director of Annual Giving. She makes her home in Newport, RI where she enjoys playing tennis in her down time.


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