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Donating to Your Alma Mater: Money and Time are Both Appreciated

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If you waltzed across the stage in your cap and gown earlier this week, be warned: the phone calls and letters will start soon. They want your money and they don’t care if you’re broke.

No, I’m not talking about the fact that your student loan payments will be kicking in soon.

As soon as you have the status of “alumni” instead of “student,” your college will start asking you to make a charitable donation. Requesting monetary donations from alumni is common practice of just about every college in existence, and the majority of them have people on staff whose only job is dealing with – and soliciting for – donations.

Giving Back to Your Alma Mater

I graduated a few years ago, and it seems as if I’m always getting bombarded with “invitations” asking me to contribute to other students’ academic success so that I can “help them have the same opportunities I once had.”

I’ve also been asked to help the university maintain their “current standards of teaching excellence” (whatever that means) and improve the campus … among other things.

The letters and phone calls started a few months after my graduation. I get alumni magazines in the mail with convenient postage-paid envelopes stuck in the middle, just in case I’m inclined to whip open my check book and mail in a few bucks.

The majority of my friends are also college graduates, and after conducting a brief survey (I asked them on the phone) if they’ve ever donated money to their alma mater, the answer was “No” from each and every one of them, and “I’m too broke” and “I already paid them thousands in tuition” were two common reasons why. This wasn’t a scientific poll by any means, but I’d be willing to be that most new graduates aren’t willing to donate to their schools, either.

I’m definitely not going to name any names, but I remember seeing the “planned giving officer” walk around at my school. He reminded me of a used car salesman: always going around shaking everybody’s hand, always smiling a smile so white and bright that it looked painted on, always speaking with the booming voice of a televangelist.

Apparently people in that position know what they’re doing, because they somehow convince alumni to make huge donations.

Alternatives to Donating Money

If you had such a fantastic time during your years at college and feel that you gained much more than an education, you may want to give something back to your school … except you have so many bills you can’t afford to donate right now.

Most schools are more than willing to accept help from volunteers, and you could always donate your time. Contact the alumni office of your college to find out where you might be of assistance. Perhaps you could help organize alumni events, assist with fundraisers (without actually donating money) or even volunteer at a museum, should your school have one (many do.)

Looking for a more creative alternative? Not sure if its common practice, but I found a few pieces online in which quite a few people claimed that they wanted to donate their bodies to science after they die by giving them to the medical schools at their alma mater.

If you do have money to donate to your alma mater, it will definitely be appreciated. The donations are used to improve facilities, contribute to scholarships to current students, and maintain top quality faculty, among other things.

Some people even arrange for a portion of their estate to go to their alma mater after they pass away.

I’m definitely not wealthy enough to pull that one off and I doubt I will be by the time I die, but should I come into some big money in the near future, maybe I’ll go ahead and send them a check in that pre-paid envelope after all.

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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