Posted September 26, 2016

When more is more

The 2016 Senior Class gift shattered goals and expectations of student giving. 

Three students each holding a sticker that says “I donated.”
Photography By: 
Ryan Brandenberg
A new focus on student philanthropy resulted in strong returns for the 2016 Senior Class Gift.

Each day, nearly 40,000 students pursue their education at Temple. Between classes, projects and other demands, giving back may not seem like a top priority. But as Temple’s Class of 2016 demonstrated, giving a little goes a long way.

The university’s 2015–2016 Senior Class Gift program successfully quadrupled the percentage of student participation and raised more than $7,600 from the Class of 2016. As of May, more than 1,000 seniors had made gifts, a sharp increase from 229 in the 2014–2015 fiscal year.

The rise in student giving can be attributed to a focus on developing a culture of philanthropy among students. Leading the charge is Julie Wilkins, student relations coordinator for the Office of the Provost, who has overhauled the senior class gift and created a student philanthropic committee.

“We wanted to develop an engagement program that would educate students on how philanthropic donations to Temple have already benefitted them,” Wilkins said. “Maybe they receive an endowed scholarship or use other services sponsored by philanthropic engagement—things that students don’t know came to them because of donor support.”

When it comes to student involvement, Wilkins encourages students to have as much input in the class gift as possible. Students involved with the committee are able to pitch, plan and assist at events, as well as market them.

Social media and email surveys enabled the committee to easily gather responses on where the seniors most wanted to see their money allocated to.

“As Temple students, they can appreciate that someone else needs a scholarship, or could benefit from using academic spaces and services,” Wilkins said.

Students donated to more than 75 university funds, including schools/colleges, major departments, and student life. Ultimately, the Class of 2016 Scholarship Fund received the most donations, approximately 51 percent, and currently has a balance of $5,529.

“It was great seeing that people care enough about their fellow peers to give to the scholarship,” said Jordan Sowell, committee member and senior financial planning major. “Going to the events and seeing people learn how they can make an impact was rewarding.”

The average donation from students was $7.27, which Wilkins believes demonstrates that students can make a significant impact even with a small donation.

“I tell students all the time that donating means so much more than one less coffee or burrito a day,” said Shaniqua Wallace, a senior marketing major committee member. “It means knowing that you could be the person that helped another student continue their education or get a chance to start their education.”

The 2016 Scholarship Fund will remain open until December, so that summer and winter graduates can continue to contribute.

For the 2016–2017 year, the program will continue to develop educational programming for all students on the importance of philanthropic donations, while also trying to have more senior-oriented programming, to create a larger sense of class unity.

“I think that Temple students really value the momentum that they’ve experienced at Temple,” Wilkins said. “They see how much the university has grown just in the past few years, so they believe in the mission of the university and understand that Temple first and foremost focuses on student support.”

—Hayley Chenoweth, Class of 2017