Why Giving Back Makes Cents*

I wrote this for the Back to the Hill blog for Tufts University. But, the thoughts can apply across the private university spectrum.

Incoming call. 617-627-5000. Wait! Don’t groan yet! 

Yes, it might be a robotic sophomore calling to ask for money for Tufts, but give her a chance! Yes, you’re still paying back student loans and trying to be an independent, social, functioning adult and don’t have a huge vault of “spare” money. Yes, you basically just graduated and paid $200,000, which should be quite enough for now. Yes, you’re doing something that you “didn’t even learn at Tufts”. Pick up the phone.

Financial giving to a university is not just about the money. For younger alumni, in fact, that’s not the driving action at all for “the ask”. When you give, or even engage in that conversation, a few things happen:

  • The alumni engagement numbers increase, which improves the university’s profile, which can lead to future funding opportunities.
  • You learn about cool stuff that Tufts is doing and can figure out where specifically you want your money to go.
  • You build the knowledge base of the Tufts Alumni office so that they can keep in touch with you and connect you with great opportunities and resources.

And a few other things could happen:

  • You decide to give back by volunteering for programs like TAAP (Tufts Alumni Admissions Program) and Summer Mentoring.
  • You have a great conversation with a current student, young alumni gift officer, or Tufts Alumni Office staffer (and probably make their day, too).
  • You remember something great that you took away from Tufts.
  • You help increase the university’s ability to give financial aid, support for students and professors doing cutting-edge research, and capacity for amazing programs. 
  • You inspire others to give back a little too.

Basically, the same way you can scrounge up a little support cool organizations that you care about or marathons your friends are running, you can support the university that is forever on your resume and helped build your skill set into what it is today. But how much? Honestly, you’ll know what feels right. If you’re living on the far-too-low Americorps stipend, $5 is amazing. If you’re a grad school student, two venti coffees ($10? oof!) should do it. For those with modest salaries and high rent who are first-time donors, $20 would be amazing. And, if you’re someone who’s making money and goes out fairly regularly, think about how much you drop on a weekend night, donate that ($50? $100?) and have a board game night with pizza instead. No matter what the amount, you’ll feel great, and good things will come from it. I promise.

To top it off: Back to the Hill is a fantastic celebration of friendships that you made and experiences that you had at Tufts. If you didn’t receive financial aid yourself, I guarantee that many of the people who defined your Tufts experience did. Had they not been able to afford Tufts, would you have had the same experience? Your contribution helps to continue lifelong friendships and traditions of exciting learning.

Agree? Disagree? Still have questions? I’m eager to hear.

*couldn’t resist!

What are you thoughts on the abilities and responsibility of 20-somethings to give?

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