Lawrence University wrapped up its Fourth Annual Giving Day last Wednesday, Oct. 11 and brought in $1,430,495 worth of contributions from 2,390 members of the Lawrence community. These numbers broke all records from the previous three fiscal years that Lawrence held a Giving Day initiative. Among those donors, 840 were current students and alumni from the classes of ‘01-’21. The overwhelming generosity from current students, alumni, parents and friends of Lawrence fills the university with a sense of pride. However, with Lawrence facing the challenge of defining campus values since the events following the most recent US General Election and the campus events of last spring, many alumni have been feeling that their money is better placed elsewhere. For many, the question is: is it worth it to give to Lawrence when I am not happy with the administration?
The short answer is: yes. Ultimately, withholding giving to the Lawrence Fund, the university’s primary donation repository, only hurts the current and future students that are trying their hands at a liberal arts education. The Lawrence Fund designates 100% of its funds to services that directly benefit students. These funds provide the Athletic Department with new equipment and uniforms. It provides the Conservatory the funds to purchase the rights to music and updated instruments. It helps the Mudd Library keep its lights on, books on the shelves and technology for students that cannot afford their own printers or computers. Most importantly, the Lawrence Fund provides all the critical funding that make student scholarships happen.
Current Lawrence students benefit from all of these things. Students use the facilities and services provided by the Lawrence Fund to spark discussion about what they value most, and challenge adversity all around campus. The current students are holding their administration accountable when they fail to promote values that make them feel safe and comfortable to pursue education. Most importantly, the funds are allowing a diverse group of students to try their hand at making the world a better place.
Lawrence has a strong history for alumni generosity. Forbes put Lawrence at 35 on their “Grateful Grad Index” that reflects alumni satisfaction shown by their contributions to the university. Lawrence also had an approximate 35% Donor Participation Rate for the 2017 Fiscal Year. This participation rate is one of the only tools that investors will consider when deciding which universities to provide more funding. Despite the little attention the US government gives to education, Lawrence has been enjoying an increase to its number of incoming students each year because of their ability to give out enormous scholarships.
So, what do alumni do when they hear their university make miscalculated steps in such a divisive time? Alumni need to stand behind current students – the ones that are dealing with campus issues first hand – and show there is a community of millions that want to see Lawrence be the best it can be. Alumni can designate their contributions to the Diversity Center or to Student Scholarships directly. They can offer their contact information to Career Services to help students find beneficial internships or jobs after they leave. By leaving current students stranded to face the challenges alone, donors turn their backs on making Lawrence the school they want it to be. Overall, Lawrence doesn’t improve when the community turns its back on the issues. In such a divisive time, it’s more important than ever for alumni, students, faculty, staff and administration to unite and turn Lawrence into the institution they all fell in love with.
Giving Day Numbers:
Broke all Giving Day Records from the previous year
Yellow Class raised most money
840 people from 2001-2021 classes gave
Giving Numbers in General:
~35% Participation Rate for FY17 – Reported by the Annual Giving Office
Donor Participation Rate factors into the decision to get grant money from fed. gov.
35th on Forbes Grateful Grad Index
Index measures how happy alumni are with a school by the median private donations
and participation rate average over the past 3 years