Foundation matches gifts from young alumni, undergrads
For most students and newer alumni, philanthropy conjures images of wealthy industrialists, financiers and software magnates, but a new campaign supported by the UMass Amherst Foundation board seeks to instill a culture of giving among younger members of the campus community.
In March, board members approved a plan to provide matches, from both the Board budget and generous member contributions, for gifts from alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years. Sarah Sligo, executive director of Annual Giving, said first-time gifts from young alumni will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $50,000 for the whole campaign.
"When alumni understand the importance of philanthropy and know their support is matched dollar for dollar, participation should increase," Sligo said. "Alumni participation is an important factor in rankings and also helps the campus obtain more corporate and foundation grants."
At the same time, the foundation has also been supporting student giving by matching various fund-raising efforts and the Senior Campaign.
According to Sligo, the board allocated $25,000 last November to match student gifts to the Annual Fund as part of a broader effort to encourage philanthropic support among undergraduates. "We've gone from educating only graduating seniors on the importance of giving to educating our entire student body," she said. "They get an understanding of the difference giving makes in scholarships and enriched programs, for example - results they feel everyday."
Since last fall, said Sligo, several programs were introduced to spread student awareness about the importance of giving back to the campus. During New Student Orientation, incoming students competed in "Minute(man) to Win It!," a trivia contest about campus traditions and philanthropy.
Through the Piggy Bankit program, the Annual Fund distributed 3,000 plastic piggy banks to new students as a way to channel spare change into a scholarship fund, said Sligo. The collected funds supported two $500 scholarships this spring, she said.
The students who work at the Annual Fund Telephone Program have also been asked to make donations, according to Sligo. "They're already aware of the importance of giving," she said, "and they can ask prospective donors to join them in making a gift."
In addition to dollar-for-dollar matches on student gifts, the foundation earmarked another $5,000 specifically for the Senior Campaign if at least 20 percent of the graduating class participates in the campaign, said Sligo.
This year's senior class gift will support the new permaculture garden at Berkshire Dining Commons. Seniors received appeals through e-mails and phone calls, said Sligo, and the foundation's $5,000 incentive could help boost participation, which has been at around 15 percent in recent years.
"These matching funds have the potential to have a powerful influence on student and young alumni," Sligo said, "and promote a new appreciation for the importance of giving back to our campus."
May 21, 2012.
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