You “Serve”, But Do You “Give”?

By Katie MacKenzie, Project Coordinator

There is a big trend happening in Student Affairs and on college campuses – Service Learning.  Service learning offers students the opportunity to experience out-of-the-classroom learning while reflecting on what it means to give back to the community through service to others.

My alma mater is huge on service learning. In fact, in order to graduate each student is required to complete at least 80 hours of service – roughly 10 hours every semester. So before I was able to walk across the stage and receive my diploma, I could feel proud that I had given back to my community and learned the value that is to be gained through helping others and serving those less fortunate than myself.

While we do a good job teaching students to give back to their community through service, do we do a good job teaching students to give back to their community through philanthropy?

I was reading a recent article in Currents magazine published by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Council for Advancement and Support of Education. This particular article offered tips for weaving philanthropy into the everyday campus fabric and culture. Karen Osborne, President of the Osborne Group a New York based fundraising consultancy, was quoted as saying, “All of our Institutions teach service – you should go out and help – but we never say, ‘and give.’”

This quote really struck a chord with me. Yes, we teach students the value of giving back to the community through service and in giving their time to assist others, but do we teach them the value of giving back financially to our institutions in order to advance our missions and promote our shared set of values?

Don’t get me wrong, institutions need the time and talents offered by volunteers and many of us couldn’t do what we do without their help. But just as importantly, we need those who understand the importance of philanthropy and are willing to give of their resources so that we have the funds to continue to promote our missions and provide our services. And while many of you may argue, “How can they give back? They’re just poor college students burdened with student loans! They can’t give back!”

I’m not asking you to ask them to give today. I’m just asking you to consider how we could do a better job of planting the seed of philanthropy in our students so that when they walk across the stage to graduate, they become alumni who value the importance of giving.

So I ask you this, are you ready to take the next step and give?