Creating a Culture of Philanthropy
Eighty-four percent of Donnelly College students receive either scholarships, institutional aid, or grant awards, making it possible for them to access higher education while acquiring little debt or out-of-pocket expense. However, because the majority of Donnelly’s students are the first in their family to attend college, everything is uncharted territory for them – including scholarships.
Although Donnelly students are grateful for any financial assistance they receive, not all realize that their scholarships are the direct result of charitable contributions from supporters, friends, foundations, and Donnelly alumni. They do not understand that their scholarships start with a gift from a donor—someone who sees the impact Donnelly is making in lives of students and in the broader Kansas City community and wants to invest in that important work.
Donnelly’s Advancement Team is on a mission to help all students better understand the role philanthropy plays in funding their affordable education. “Students are always shocked to learn that their tuition would have to drastically increase if weren’t for Donnelly donors each year,” said Emily Buckley, VP of Advancement. “But even more, we want every student to be lifted up and encouraged to know how many people - far and near- believe in our students’ potential and genuinely want to see them succeed.”
Each year during SHINE, the College’s largest annual fundraising event, 25 to 30 student volunteers are given the opportunity to meet donors, network with alumni and board members, and hear from event chairs and other speakers who talk about why they give. Most students leave this event much more knowledgeable about how philanthropy impacts their education and Donnelly overall.
But whereas SHINE can only impact a limited number of students, our newest initiative, 1Day4Donnelly, is designed to engage the entire Donnelly community – students, alumni, faculty, staff, board members, donors, and friends – in a 24-hour giving day. While donors can give online and get updates throughout the day, booths on campus allow students to learn facts about philanthropy’s role in their education and provide opportunities for them to express their gratitude.
During our second annual 1Day event on March 3, 2021, Donnelly raised almost $30,000 thanks to generous donations from donors like Jerome Society members Annie and Scott Powell.
The Powell’s noted with their gift, “We give to Donnelly because we believe immensely in its mission and leadership. We believe that Donnelly College is making a tremendous impact in the lives of the students and the communities in which they [serve]. Donnelly College is helping young people realize and live out their potential.”
During 1Day, students can hear such comments directly from donors. In turn, students are invited to send personalized videos thanking donors or to write thank you notes, expressing their gratitude for donations that have allowed them to realize their educational goals. Here’s one example of a student thank you note written for this year’s 1Day event:
“Since I was seven years old, education has been my end goal. I had to prove to not only myself but my family that the sacrifices they made for my brothers and me were worth it. When senior year rolled around, I felt defeated. From applying as an ‘international student’ while residing here in the states to scrolling straight to the requirement section of scholarships before I got my hopes up, my goal was floating away; at least that was before I heard of Donnelly. My friend had heard about Donnelly College through her mentor and suggested I apply. I did. The classes were small, and the College is located not too far from home, which is perfect. Being granted the opportunity of having a college experience without being hindered by my status or finances is beyond what words can describe. Now I can get my foot in the door and pursue my dream career in the medical field. There are not enough ‘thank yous’ to express how transforming and liberating these past years have been. Thank you, a million times and more.” -Jaretsy C., Donnelly College student
Creating a culture of philanthropy on campus is a community-wide endeavor that only works when donors and students are given opportunities to connect. When one of our 1Day donors sent his own video back to Donnelly after receiving a student’s Thank You video, the donor’s touching and encouraging video was shared with all students, faculty ,and staff. “We look forward to a post-pandemic environment for our next 1Day event, when hopefully we can come together in person to celebrate the circle of giving that philanthropy creates at Donnelly,” Buckley said.
For all those that participate in Donnelly’s mission by giving of your time, resources, and counsel, we echo Jaretsy in saying, “thank you, a million times and more!”
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