Why Donating Matters


By Guest Contributor

In the Campus on April 24, we read an op-ed written by Hannah Bristol describing her experience with the senior class gift and the fundraising methods being used. As Senior Committee members, this article was a great learning opportunity for us, and we would like to take a brief moment to respond.

The Class of 2014 & 2014.5 Scholarship Fund has the ability to change an incoming student’s life. As a committee, we believe supporting this student is a great way for us to create unity as a class while giving another student a chance to experience all that Middlebury has to offer. This gift is about a cumulative effort that we can make as seniors.

Through our fundraising efforts we have found that some members of our class do not feel inclined to give for a variety of reasons. As a committee, our job is not to convince you to give, our job is to make the case for giving, and hopefully inspire you to give; but giving is a personal, voluntary choice. That being said, we would like to address some of those reasons and clear up any ambiguity or confusion.

1. Your gift matters. 

Our goal for the scholarship fund is to raise a total of $10,000. This is a big number! In our experience we found that if we went around saying “We want to raise $10,000!” many people would be too overwhelmed by the amount to even give. Although it might be easy to believe a donation of $20.14, $15, $10 or even $5 might not make a difference, it does. Gifts of $21 or less to the fund have totaled over $3,000! With over 600 students in our class, your combined donations lead us closer and closer to passing our goal.

Our gifts towards the scholarship fund have also inspired parents of our class to show enormous support for our senior class gift. The parents of our class are helping us make this scholarship possible and this speaks volumes to their commitment to Middlebury and their understanding of the importance of giving back.

2. Percentages

Our goal this year is to get 68 percent of our class to support the scholarship fund. There are a few reasons we strive this number. We believe this is a way to unite our class and a way to challenge one another to support a fund that will make a member of the class of 2018’s Middlebury experience possible. We understand that not everyone is in a position to give $20.14 to support the fund, so we stress participation to show that everyone, regardless of giving amount, can have an impact on the gift and help us get closer to our larger goal of $10,000.

3. The Scholarship Fund 

Earlier this year our class voted on where we wanted our Senior Gift money to go. By a huge majority we voted to give money to a Scholarship Fund. We hope that everyone who voted will also follow up and make a donation to this great cause. We have heard from some that this gift is not “tangible” enough:

“How will we know this actually goes to a student?”

“Will this go to one student in need? Or will it be distributed between a few?”

“We won’t even know who gets the money, how can we be sure this is where it’s going?”

These are GREAT questions and we encourage you to continue asking them! What we can tell you is that yes, this money goes directly to a student’s financial aid package and no where else. This money will not be distributed but will be given to one student who cannot afford Middlebury but will be able to attend because of the Class of 2014. The Senior Committee is currently working with the Annual Giving Office to work on a way to update our class on who this student is once he or she arrives on campus. This way, we can take pride in knowing exactly where and to whom our gift is going.

4. Solicitation  

There is no one perfect way to appeal to the masses, so our efforts have been multi-faceted. We announced on Facebook a few weeks ago that Senior Week might be at risk due to our low participation rate and our lack of funds. Thanks to many of you who got the word out, our percentage went from 25 percent to 34 percent in just one week. Our Committee has worked tirelessly sending emails, making phone calls and tabling around campus to encourage people to donate. If we don’t ask, we don’t get donations — simple as that.

We were not trying to use Senior Week as a “pawn,” but rather make public the very real situation that we have been trying to deal with at every Senior Committee meeting. We understand that a boat cruise during senior week, along with other activities scheduled for that week, are not a necessity, but we have received feedback from much of our class that they would like to participate in these activities. We are working to make our last week at Middlebury a special time for our entire class, and these activities are a way to do that.

5. It is a personal choice. 

As mentioned earlier, as a committee, we are not here to convince you to give, but rather to make the case to support the Scholarship Fund. If you, as a senior, do not want to give to the Scholarship Fund, then we cannot make you give. We can, however, clear up any confusion that you might have. For example: If you don’t support Middlebury’s stance on divestment, giving to the class gift will not force you to go against that belief. Giving to the class gift is the one way to have complete control over where your money goes, and this money will allow a future student to experience the “things [you’ve] loved here” and the “opportunities [you’ve] had.”

Money going to the Scholarship Fund will not go to the administration or the endowment. The funds raised will go into the student’s financial aid package. It is simply a gift from us to a future student. We have all been so fortunate to attend a place like Middlebury, and our gift is to allow someone else to have that opportunity. Who knows, this person could make your goals a reality in their time here at Midd.

6. Come Join us! 

We invite you to come to a meeting so you can learn even more about the issues we are dealing with and offer some constructive advice on how we can better convey our fundraising priorities. With your help we can better convey the goals of the fund and how this is a great opportunity to give back.

Thank you for the insight that your article provided. I hope we have been able to address some of your concerns.

Written on behalf of the SENIOR COMMITTEE.  Artwork by JENA RITCHEY.

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