Nonprofits value students’ time

Charities are not the first thing on most students’ minds when thinking about budgeting their money.

However, there are ways for college students to help out a good cause without breaking the bank.

According to the 2011 Millennial Donors Report, the millennial generation donates to charities, but often in small amounts. In a survey of nearly 3,000 individuals ages 20 to 35, most of whom had some college education, 93 percent said they gave to nonprofits within the past year. 

However, 58 percent of those who donated said their largest gift was less than $150, and 25 percent said their largest gift was between $1 and $50. Also, the bulk of the giving was distributed in small increments to many organizations.

The report also showed a correlation between age and giving. Millennials in the 30 to 35 age range gave significantly more than those ages 20 to 24 or even 25 to 29, indicating that college-aged individuals are not as able to fit nonprofit donations into their budgets.

There are other ways for college students to make a difference, though.

The Ladder Alliance, a Fort Worth nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence, has engaged students in several areas of their organization. While The Ladder Alliance receives most of its monetary donations from corporations and does not have a substantial individual donor base, it encourages students to volunteer, Sharon Cox, founder and executive director, said.

TCU fashion merchandising students have helped out with The Success Store, a program by The Ladder Alliance to provide business-appropriate clothing for domestic violence victims. TCU students have also become volunteer instructors for the organization’s GED program, Cox said.

The Ladder Alliance encourages college students to get involved in a variety of ways including starting a clothing drive, organizing a dinner, donating books and toys for victims’ children and becoming a tutor, Cox said.

Other nonprofits are looking for student volunteers also.

Kathryn Albright, general manager for Kids Who Care, said that although some college students have participated in the organization, it has not made enough connections on campus. 

Kids Who Care, a Fort Worth nonprofit that aims to produce confident and creative children through musical theatre education and performance, typically hires five or six students for paid internships each summer, Albright said. However, there are more opportunities for students to get involved.

“We do have more opportunities for groups to volunteer for our special events, but we have not been able to successfully connect with the right student organizations to make this happen,” Albright said.

According to the 2011 Millennial Donors Report, trust plays a large role in the giving habits of millennial donors, a group that encompasses college-aged individuals. Millennial donors base their philanthropic decisions largely on personal connections, and they are more likely to donate or volunteer with organizations they have formed connections with in the past.

This personal connection may be the reason that The Campaign for TCU has been so successful. The organization has raised $415.38 million, of which $94.25 million has been designated for student scholarships, and aims to raise $100 million for student scholarships by the end of the campaign on May 31, Harmonie Farrow, director of Student & Young Alumni Programs, said.

Donations come from alumni, students, parents, foundations, corporations, faculty, staff and friends of the university, with 39 percent coming from alumni as of Dec. 31, 2011.  However, current students also make contributions, and the campaign even received two donations from the Class of 2015 this year, Farrow said.

Donors have the satisfaction of knowing that their gifts are helping TCU and its current students thrive and succeed. Alumni donors have the added gratification of knowing that as TCU’s programs improve, so does the value of their degree, Farrow said.

“The number one reason our alumni tell me they give is because they are grateful for the experiences they had at TCU, and they want to give back to ensure that current students can have the same experiences and opportunities,” Farrow said.