It seems that the last thing college students want to do when they make money is give it away. But as we start to make money and enter into the business world, philanthropy is both a corporate and personal monetary opportunity that will resurface throughout our lives. From Girl Scout cookies to disaster aid, students should learn to properly discuss, decline, or designate money for these situations on four levels: local, university, national and global.
- Where you’ll see it: 5k races, Girl Scout cookies, High School fundraisers
- Why give? Local giving tends to mean instant results: combining community donations for a cause quickly shows the "big picture." Also, the more local the giving, there tends to be a nice return (a washed car, a local coupon book, etc.)
- The Myth: "I can’t escape the entire fifth grade knocking down my door to sell me wrapping paper!"
- Do it right: It wasn’t that long ago when you may have washed a car to pay for sports camp, your class trip, or a tuba for yourself (and it wasn’t always that easy then either!)
With catalog ordering, there’s nothing wrong with helping out once or twice – and telling others you’ve already participated. If you don’t feel like ordering anything at all, a few dollars of a straight donation is always a welcome and polite way out.
- Where you’ll see it: Your college student campaign asking you to "give back."
- Why give? Donating to your school is investing in your degree—if your school prospers academically and aesthetically, it (and your degree) will be sought after.
University giving is largely misunderstood—tuition rarely covers much of a public school’s expenses, as most academics and extra curricular activities go underfunded.
- The Myth: "Student-ask programs are selfish. Why give to a school you already pay thousands in tuition to?"
- Do it right: "Class gift" or ‘Senior Giving" programs benefit the campus and academics—not normally parking, or athletics, or faculty salary. Many collegiate programs include perks of being a donor, like preferred sports seats, free t-shirts, discounts, or giveaways. Give towards something with personal meaning, such as new swimsuits to your old team, or a bench where your friends hung out. Find out if young alumni giving is also a spirit competition for your school at http://acc-challenge.org and www.bigtenchallenge.org.
- Where you’ll see it: Hurricane Katrina Relief and 9/11 response.
- Why give? It’s all about patriotism and social responsibility. Does social responsibility exist anymore? You bet. It’s in the world’s largest ever charity donation from Bill Gates, Marriott’s work with the Children’s Miracle Network, Ralph Lauren’s Breast Cancer awareness line, Camp Mariah Carey, and The Tiger Woods Foundation. Sure, big businesses and celebrities can give more because they earn more, but they set a social responsibility trend that should span over various incomes. Students on a smaller, yet still important, scale can keep the concept going.
- The Myth: "Others will take care of it, and my small donation won’t make a difference!"
- Do it right: If you don’t have much to spare, donate with a group or sponsor one specific item. Giving up a cup of coffee or movie rental once monthly can yield $40 to donate anywhere yearly. If giving monetarily can’t be in your budget – you can always volunteer time.
- Where you’ll see it: TV infomercials for kids in need
- Why give? The international experience. US money will go five times as far in a developing country. It’s large scale but can be personal. (Some programs set up a pen-pal program between needy kids and their sponsors.)
- The Myth: "All global fundraisers are frauds that will send me junk mail!"
- Do it right: Research before to make sure your charity is legitimate. If you don’t want to give long term, most non-profit orgs allow donating once with no further obligations. If you do not plan to be a continual donor, clearly (but politely) state that you wish to be placed on a do-not-call list.
So what does this mean for you? Philanthropy is ultimately a decision for students to make when able to invest in an altruistic form. Chances are, no one will ever make you donate anywhere, but requests for help will never go away as our generation becomes the next global and corporate citizens. During natural disasters or marching band practice, our responsibility is to budget outward when we can, and prepare ourselves to make the reward the experience.
Places to Donate
Locally: Look for events like "Relay for Life" (www.cancer.org), or schools and shelters in need.
University: Search your college’s alumni page.
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