Senior class gift kickoff

Last week, on Tuesday, Oct. 30th, approximately 200 students from the class of 2013 gathered in Marshall Hall to kickoff the Senior Class Gift Campaign, where President Thomas and Phonathon manager Shannen Riede ‘13 introduced soon-to-be alumni to the Puget Sound Fund.

As of now, the senior class has achieved approximately 10 percent participation in the campaign. According to Clay Ross, Assistant Director of Annual Giving and class of ‘09 alumnus, this is unprecedented; other classes did not achieve this 10 percent until January, typically.

“This year’s event was so different. Usually people will cheer when a club, sport or sorority or fraternity they participate in is mentioned. But this year, people were cheering for the speakers and cheering for giving back. That’s different. That’s inspiring as an alumni,” Ross, who attended his own Senior Class Gift Kickoff Event in the fall of 2008, said.

According to Ross, all of the money donated through the Senior Class Gift Campaign goes directly to financial aid for future students. Significantly, here at the University of Puget Sound, 9 out of 10 students are assisted by financial aid.

“Students pay a lot to go to college.   But they only pay a fraction of what it actually costs—the rest comes from gifts from donors who believe what we do is unique, important, even essential—most of whom are alumni,” said Thomas.

“Unlike many schools, where students might donate a bench or plant a tree, this is, in my mind, much more community-based,” Ross said. “What we’re doing is getting as many people together to support as many people as possible. True, it’s not a lot money, but a pledge of $75 over the span of five years is still crucial. There are currently 638 walking seniors for this class. Multiply by $75 per student, that’s approximately $50,000. That’s a full ride.”

According to Ross, 5,000 alumni gave back to the University last year.

All of the money raised goes to the Puget Sound Fund, which is subdivided into a few umbrella funds: the Parent Fund, Alumni Fund and Friends Fund. There is also another, separate category—financial aid. It is to this category that any senior class gift contributes.

“If you look at those people who now give a lot of money, if you look back at their giving history, they started somewhere ‘normal.’ But over the years, whether it’s because their business grew or perhaps just because they love the school that much, they have given more and more,” Ross said.

Ross hopes that the Senior Class Gift Campaign will not only introduce students to the process of giving, but that it will also teach students that giving back is not about how much money they donate but about getting people to participate. There are two goals to the campaign, Ross explained, education and participation.

“It’s about helping to provide an education for everyone. Additionally, our goal this year is 60 percent participation, which is 4 percent more than last year,” Ross said.

“I have said before that at Puget Sound, we are not content to see the mountain (though we love it when we do), we have to climb it.  That activist urge to be better, to do it differently, to make the world better doesn’t stop when Loggers graduate—it just keeps going, right to the heights.  Always onward, ever upward.  And that’s what motivates us to give back. We are dreamers and doers—that’s what Loggers are,” Thomas said.

There are a total of 46 volunteers on the Senior Class Gift Committee, and current seniors can give through any of them. Students can also give by visiting the Senior Class Gift table in the S.U.B., calling 866.GOLOGGERS or dropping a gift form in the mail to CMB#1056.