Alumni Column: Giving Back

While I was a Colgate student, I knew that tuition only paid for a fraction of my Colgate education. I did not know the source of the rest of the money. I assumed it came from the gifts of others. I didn’t know any of those donors, but I am grateful to all of them. 

Now, tuition covers about two-thirds of the cost of a Colgate education. The rest of that money comes from other sources – alumni, parents, friends of Colgate students and other benefactors. You may not know them, but their generosity has helped you. You probably heard someone say “pay it forward.” We have all benefitted from the contributions of others. We might not be able to pay them back, but through our own philanthropy, we can honor what they have done.

Your financial contributions to Colgate are important in many ways. I know that does not surprise you. An obvious way is that your gifts provide resources for Colgate to continue and to thrive as a center of learning. Perhaps a less obvious way in which your donations help are for Colgate’s U.S. News & World Report ranking.  Regardless of your view of those rankings, they affect how people view your college. A school’s U.S. News “score” is affected positively by smaller class sizes, higher faculty pay, a lower student-to faculty ratio and the average amount spent per student in instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. When you become alumni, your donations can make an even greater impact, because five percent of the U.S. News score is based on the percentage of alumni who give to their alma mater. The point of all that is – aside from all the other reasons to contribute to Colgate – any financial support from you can help improve our U.S. News ranking. 

You can allocate your donations – in any amount – to things that matter to you. It could be for support of internship living expenses or tuition financial aid for students from specific localities, diversity and inclusion initiatives, or other things close to your heart. If you had a good experience at Colgate through sports, theater, outdoor education or something else, support that so that those who follow you can enjoy those opportunities. If you had a Colgate experience that was not as good as you thought it should be, make a gift that is part of the solution. You need not have a special “cause” for giving to Colgate. An unrestricted gift to The Colgate Fund works just fine.   

Please give to Colgate. It doesn’t have to be much. Everything counts. Colgate students who  donate $13 a year to Colgate become student members of the Presidents’ Club. It is not a lot of money, but it is a leadership giving level for students. The level increases after graduation, but just starting is significant. Hopefully, the mere fact of your contribution will be a reward. Presidents’ Club membership also fosters a sense of community among Colgate students and alumni. Student Presidents’ Club members are invited to networking receptions with alumni on and off campus. If you attend one of those, maybe you will meet alumni from your home, those in a career field that you are considering, someone who lives in the area where you plan to move after graduation or someone who just provides you with some practical advice.  Maybe you’ll make a new friend. It is all good.