Publications & Products
Volume 6, Issue 3

Engaging Student Philanthropy in Community Colleges

When developing a student philanthropy program, community college professionals should start by looking at their past projects and being honest about what has been successful and what hasn't. And they should never be afraid to try something new, according to two CASE contributing authors.

It's a lesson that Patti Conroy, director of scholarship programs, and Anne McGrath, development officer, of the Community College of Philadelphia know well. Conroy and McGrath explored their experiences building a student giving campaign at the Community College of Philadelphia in the recently released CASE book, Lasting Impressions: Laying the Foundation for Engaged and Philanthropic Future Alumni.

In their chapter, "Student Advancement at a Community College," Conroy and McGrath detail their experiences implementing a student giving program, from the initial years of a Tuition Gap Day to an I-Pledge drive. Their goal was to create a tradition of giving to the institution.

"The thought process was, for a lot of students, that this was their first opportunity to go to college, and they never would have been able to do that if they didn't start here," McGrath says. "We want them to remember that we were that start for them."

While the Community College of Philadelphia is a two-year school, it is one of the largest higher education institutions in the state, and many Community College of Philadelphia students continue their education at major Pennsylvania universities, Conroy says.

Still, Conroy says engaging students in giving during their two years at the Community College of Philadelphia has always been a challenge for her team.

"It's important to remember that these are evolving campaigns and can be done on any level," Conroy says. "We're really ambitious here, but there's always something that works and something that doesn't. You have to change it up here and there to make it work."

Writing the chapter for Lasting Impressions was easy for the pair, as they frequently review their past projects before they embark on a new campaign or project.

"Once an event or campaign is held on campus several years in a row, it becomes easier for the student body to accept it, McGrath adds. "You can't give up after your first year. If you do, you don't have anything to grow on."

Read more about student philanthropy in non-traditional settings in Lasting Impressions, available for purchase online.

This article is from the September 2016 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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