December 06, 2018
The holidays are the giving season. Whether it is gifts to our loved ones or financial and volunteer support to nonprofits, most of us use this time of year to reflect and give back. Ursinus Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLDs) are no exception. Last fiscal year, 399 GOLDs made a financial contribution to Ursinus. We sat down with a few of them to find out more about what inspires their choice to continually support their alma mater.
The Decision to Give
Some GOLDs regarded the decision to give their very first gift to Ursinus as an obvious choice the year after graduation because they enjoyed their experience so much. Others noted that they choose to give their first gift as part of their class gift as a starting point for future giving. One of the most extraordinary “first gift” stories we heard was from Kevin McGarvey ’10.
McGarvey talked about understanding that many of the experiences students have at Ursinus are the result of someone else’s generosity: “If you can think of a moment or experience that enhanced your time at Ursinus, I would urge you to reflect on what made that possible” he said. One of these experiences was something he took part in while at school—an international trip to Brazil with the men’s basketball team.
McGarvey noted that his experience in this program made him realize the impact alumni giving can have on a program and a group of students: “My team went to Brazil, and to this day, some of my fondest memories from my college experience come from that trip,” McGarvey said. “It was a chance for the group to bond as a team, immerse ourselves in a different culture and also play against some very high level professional competition overseas.”
He said that one of the things that sticks out in his mind about that trip is that one of his teammates had never been on a plane before, or out of the NJ/PA area.
“These are the types of stories that really put things into perspective,” McGarvey added, “Without this trip, without the support of alumni and other donors, the team doesn’t get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip like this.”
Misconceptions About Giving Philanthropic Support to Ursinus
The GOLDs noted that many young alumni are still paying back their student loans and will be for many years, indicating what may explain why some don’t give.
“Being fresh out of college, it is sometimes difficult to make a gift, especially when you are starting to pay back your student loans,” said Caitlin Dalik ’10. “However, alumni should know that every bit counts! You don’t have to give hundreds of dollars to make a difference. It really adds up, and if you had a good experience at Ursinus, I think making a gift that is meaningful to you each year is a great way to honor your experience and ensure that the institution can do the same for others.”
Additionally, some GOLDs indicated that there may be a perception that alumni have to be established in their careers or very wealthy in order to make an impact.
“[GOLDs] do not think about the power and difference a lot of smaller gifts can make,” said Jerry Gares ’14. “I know every gift made in the past enhanced my UC experience in some way and gave me the tools to be successful in my career.”
Why Ursinus is Deserving of Continued Alumni Support
When asked about why Ursinus receives their continued support, some cited their observations of the recent investments being made toward improving the future of the college.
“The IDC is a much-needed addition to campus and the new Commons project will give UC a beautiful front door,” Gares told us. “I am also a big UC baseball supporter and it was nice to see the college invest in grandstands to enhance Thomas Field. It is nice to see the continued improvements to UC and gifts turning into buildings and scholarships.”
For many, there was simply an overwhelming sense of gratitude for their Ursinus experience and how it continues to affect their lives.
“Ursinus’s community means a lot to me,” McGarvey said. “It helped to shape the way I am. It helped to shape my family and friends. If I can give back and contribute to help the next wave of Ursinus students, then that’s something that I want to be a part of.”
For Alumni Ambivalent About Donating
The GOLDs we talked to want other alumni to know that they can make a difference, no matter what amount they are able to contribute.
“I would tell anyone on the fence to start small,” Gares said. “I think especially with GOLDs, you are looking at a group of people who are not fully established in their careers and do not have the expendable income relative to those who are in their 40s or beyond. I would encourage any recent graduate to give what they can.”
Dalik talked about re-framing your idea of gifts as investments in the institution and its students.
“Gifts help support new initiatives and programs,” Dalik said, “which helps builds Ursinus’s reputation—somewhere that you have so much pride in.”
Ways to Give
Though we talked to GOLDs about how they make financial gifts to Ursinus, it’s important to remember there are many different ways to give back. Whether you are looking for volunteer opportunities or to make a financial gift, you can surely find a way that is best suited to you.
By: Heidi Jensen ’14