Monday, August 10, 2009

When Do You Become the Great Benefactor?

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual association-related fare, but I am interested in how y'all might respond to the subject, so let me begin...

I went to a small college in Southwest Missouri called Missouri Southern State University. MSSU was not an Ivy League, but we grew plenty of moss in the pond out by the biology lab. In fact, in preparing to settle into this post I attempted to visit the website for facts about my alma mater and the site is still loading. Do I need to say more?

What made MSSU a diamond in the rough was something called the "International Mission" - a promise that the institution made to its students to help engage them with the world outside of Joplin, Missouri. And the promise wasn't empty - rather, many students took part in overseas study with partial to full funding in the form of travel grants.

I took part in the International Mission and along with my participation as editor/writer for The Chart campus newspaper, I consider it one of the shining examples of how a small university can provide a well-rounded experience to students., considered it I should say. Past tense. Because I discovered that with a new campus president and the economic downturn in 2008, several distingushing features of MSSU were disappearing and one of them was the International Mission.

What I couldn't understand and what infuriated me most was why the alumni hadn't been consulted before a public announcement about the end of the program. Certainly, an institution's "mission" was important enough to consider all the options and all the avenues for possible support. After many years of my explaining to my friends in DC (and worldwide) why I had not missed out by going to a small, little known college in southwest Missouri; how the International Mission, award-winning paper, and top-notch faculty had all offered me a unique and personalized experience; I was watching a huge foundation stone for the future of MSSU crumbling to dust without so much as a postcard asking for financial help from the alumni.

Blind donations? I understand why people wouldn't want to be bothered. But for something like a trademark mission? Some things are big enough to ask for the dollars.

Last week I received hope in the mail. A letter from MSSU asking their alumni who had experienced the International Mission for a donation to support the same kind of programs that we had experienced. I was ecstatic. Finally! A chance to help! I thought I'd send in $300 for this year...something I could do without that wouldn't be difficult to miss. But now I want to do more...I want to send in more than that. This is my chance to do something to change a situation for the better!

My question: How? How do I reach out and motivate people to contribute to the cause?

Anyone in fundraising have some good ideas?

1 comment:

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