Alumni Column: Your $13 Impact

Bart Hale, Class of 2004

As Colgate students, you have an incredibly powerful, unique chance to impact the university this year and elevate our entire community in historic fashion. All it takes, thanks to tradition, is a $13 gift.  You may have heard discussions since the fall about the Presidents’ Club, Colgate’s leadership giving society.  It is comprised of the university’s most generous supporters – nearly 4,000 members who collectively provide 90 percent of the funds donated to Colgate every year. While the majority of members are alumni, the Presidents’ Club giving level for students was lowered to just $13 this year in order to be more accessible and inclusive of undergraduates. Thanks to terrific leadership from our Presidents’ Club Student Committee, we have already had over 400 students join to date, and if you haven’t done so, I hope you’ll consider making your gift and being a part of this special group.

I first joined the Presidents’ Club as a senior in 2004, with full confession, because it meant I would be invited to a very enticing gala.  I’m not sure I understood why Colgate relied on donations, but I wasn’t one who wanted to miss a good party!  What I discovered, at that event and the years to follow, is the real power of our Colgate family.  Successful alums spanning eight decades in one room together, who all loved the university, carried its history and gave back to ensure it continued to thrive. They supported Colgate because older alums had done so for them, and I quickly realized that the opportunities I had on campus were because of people right there in that room.  Ever since, I’ve taken seriosuly the responsibility to do my part in continuing that link.

By joining the Presidents’ Club now as a student, you have incredible access to all these leaders for Colgate.  The $13 gift is not only an investment in our school’s future, but an investment in yourself.  There was already one networking event for student members to meet alumni over winter break, and you will find that you get just as much back as you are supporting Colgate. It is a chance to make professional contacts, and more significantly, it leads to so many new Colgate friendships with folks across all years.

If you’re wondering why Colgate even relies on annual donations, as do all private universities, it is because tuition alone does not cover the full operating costs. Education is not in the “for-profit” business model (can you imagine the experience if trustees had to cut programs in arts, sciences, athletics or facilities in order to shape earnings!?) so Colgate is able to set itself apart thanks to the generosity of our community. With increasing demand for financial aid, capital projects and new initiatives, the annual operations must be balanced by donors.  In fact, it is so important that US News and World Report factors the giving participation rate into its college rankings.  Your $13 gift as a student is powerful because it inspires alumni in their own giving, while also showing that you have “skin in the game” at this early stage towards your education.

In making your gift, you are able to designate it to any program, team, club, department or area on campus that you want to support. While giving to the Colgate Fund (unrestricted funds) helps Colgate the most, you can direct it towards your own passion. For me, that has ranged from the sailing team to the Washington D.C. study group to SGA or a scholarship fund at Phi Delta Theta.  There are so many options where your gift can make a real personal impact.

I encourage you to work with your own organizations on campus to help make history and reach 100 percent participation in the Presidents’ Club from your members. Nearly half of our student members are student-athletes. Whether you are in a Greek organization, sports team, a capella or student group, step forward as a leadership group on campus by having everyone make their $13 gift.  I look forward to seeing you at a Presidents’ Club event in the near future – Go ‘Gate!