I remember a few years I was at a conference for fellow fundraisers and someone shared a program at their institutions for college seniors to donate their loose change to some program they were raising money for. The fundraiser was proud of the program because they had a much higher than normal response. I agree that a high participation rate is certainly worth celebrating, but I could not shake the idea that this was selling the potential of a group of soon-to-be college graduates so very short.
It was allowing college graduates to think that aiming small is okay. I realize that not every college graduate has a job immediately following their trip across the stage – I was in that very boat just a few short years ago. I am aware that some kids go through college and never really connect with their institution in a way that they want to give back – I did my first few years at a junior college that was just a means to an end. And I completely get that life is expensive these days and that first job may not have as many zeros as one might hope for – my first job paid me just $24,000 a year. But I also know that I didn’t go to college to feel good about giving my loose change away. I knew the second I flipped my tassel and shook the hand of the university president that I wanted to do big things.
I wanted to leave a legacy and make a difference worthy of the hard work I put into earning that degree. So when I visit with college seniors about giving a thousand bucks over four years to make a difference, and they remark how much money that is, and then they do it, I know that its because they too share that feeling inside that they want to accomplish big things. And the truth of the matter is, they will…no doubt about it.