Monday, April 13, 2009

Big Jimmy Scholarship

I've got some strong feelings about giving $$ to the source of my college degree. On one hand I do want to show support for the things that gave me joy, but on the other hand, who wants all their hard earned dough to go to a soulless corporation? Because any time you get too far removed from the details, you lose the soul, is my theory. Fifty dollars to the general fund is not as useful as fifty dollars to buy frit for glassblowing, lab supplies for a materials project, or for a specific scholarship based on something one cares about.

When I graduated, my stance was that until I had paid off my student loans, I was not going to be volunteering extra money in donations. I've since learned that there are several metrics used to determine "success" in getting alums to donate. The obvious one is dollar value. The next one is % of students donating, then % at particular intervals post graduation. For this latter set, you could give $1 or $5 and your contribution would carry as much weight at $100 or $5000. If they had explained this to me, I might have been donating $5 all along, even if it went to the soulless general fund. But if they handed me a customized list of specific funds to donate to, saying "even $5 will help us beat those overendowed nuts just down the river", I might have done it before leaving even.

So for all those of you who intend, someday, to donate to your school of choice, start sending them $5 to get in the habit. Then, work on getting matching funds from your workplace. Then figure out if there's a specific fund you want to help. If you want to donate to MIT, I recommend this one. The Big Jimmy Scholarship Fund 3538700. Big Jimmy was a stand up guy who died too young. Very few security guards know your name. Ten years after I graduated, he could greet me by name and recount the details of my one pathetic attempt at mud wrestling, and this did not make me unique. I was lucky to still be in the area to attend the viewing before his funeral. I was perhaps one of the first 2 dozen to show and the family was overwhelmed by the student response at that point. I later read in the paper that so many current and former students showed that they had to open all their auxilliary rooms and they ran out of chairs. Now, the Big Jimmy fund has hit $100K! I'd like to see it hit $500K. For this, I willingly donate $$ and would do so even if I were still paying off loans.

1 comment:

Junior and Orion said...

Big Jimmy sounds like he was a great guy!!!!!