Casey Hoffman, ’12 alumnus and Albion College Board of Trustee member
March 18-21 marks Albion College’s yearly celebration of “philanthropy week” — a time when the campus community rallies around the importance of financially supporting the College we love. The goal is admirable; every monetary gift helps to make Albion a stronger college. Admittedly, though, I was often fatigued by the idea of donating to Albion when I was a student — “My tuition payment is due, I’m eating ramen noodles and I work for minimum wage! What more do they want from me?!” The truth is, you don’t need to donate millions of dollars to impact Albion in a positive way. If you’re on a budget, consider some of the following inexpensive ways you can make a meaningful impact during philanthropy week.
1. Create a “mini” scholarship for a first-year student
The majority of Albion College students benefit from the generosity of private scholarships. By creating your own one-time “mini” scholarship—which could pay for a first-year student’s books or minor living expenses, for instance—you can help support a cash-strapped Briton. Consider making your scholarship contingent on the fact that you meet and have lunch with your scholarship recipient. Your actions will surely remind a first-year student that they are a valued, important member of the Albion community. Further still, your generosity may buy more than books; it might spark a new friendship.
2. Support the work of a faculty member
Professors at Albion College are more than great teachers and life coaches; they are leaders in academia who are redefining the way we think about the world. The reality is, scholarship often requires funding. Albion College offers a number of options, including endowed professorships, by which you can contribute to the work of a faculty member. Remember: Buildings are temporary, but Dr. Trisha Franzen’s latest stellar scholarship, a book which re-enshrines Anna Howard Shaw as the true heir to Susan B. Anthony’s legacy, is an enduring contribution to the history of the women’s suffrage movement. Your small monetary gift can help bring important academic study, like Dr. Franzen’s book, from conception to reality. What’s more, philanthropy week is an ideal time to engage a faculty member in a conversation about what they are researching, writing, or thinking about.
3. Anonymously fund a random act of kindness
When you aren’t donating millions of dollars to build a new library, consider spending $10 to fund a random act of kindness. Small tokens of appreciation, like buying coffee for a staff member, giving flowers to a baldwin worker or sending pizza to the Honors Observatory at midnight will undoubtedly put a smile on someone’s face. Better yet, try sneakily conducting this charity anonymously. I promise, watching from a distance while Baldwin Mary receives flowers from an unnamed sender is the best form of entertainment.
4. Champion a campus program or organization
Albion’s campus programs and organizations are instruments for positive change. For example, the umbrella organizations, including LGBriTs and the Black Student Alliance, facilitate events and activities that play an important role in making Albion an inclusive, accepting campus. Making a small donation to support the work of one of these groups is a direct investment in Albion’s underrepresented students, thereby making Albion a stronger college. Commit to making a visit to the Office of Campus Programs and Organizations during philanthropy week. The awesome staff in CPO will love seeing you and will help you find an organization that can benefit from your support. Once you’ve donated, attend a meeting or event sponsored by the group you donated to—you might be surprised by the big impact your small donation made.
5. Give your money to someone else to spend
When donating to Albion, consider including a stipulation that your donation is to be allocated by someone else. For instance, I have often made donations to be allocated by Albion’s provost, Dr. Susan Conner, who has used my money to support worthy initiatives at Albion. During her tenure, Dr. Conner has stretched the boundaries of the possible through hard work, resolve and pioneering leadership. Moreover, anyone who has worked with Dr. Conner knows that her record of success is only out-shadowed by her big heart. Who could better ensure that my money is spent wisely? There is no substitute for the institutional wisdom of people like Dr. Conner who have dedicated themselves to helping Albion succeed. Most importantly, allowing someone else to donate your money—regardless of the amount—shows that person that you trust their judgement and will help reaffirm that individual’s relationship with the College. In the worthy pursuit of fundraising, we sometimes forget that “philanthropy” does not refer to monetary giving alone. Philanthropy is also about renewing the ties that bind us together as members of the Albion family. I am certain that Albion’s best days are still to come—and those days depend on us. I hope that you get involved, create relationships and find “just one more” way to give back to Albion during this year’s philanthropy week.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons