Drake University is promoting a Culture of Philanthropy campaign to connect alumni to current students.
John Smith, vice president for alumni and development, wants to get students involved in Drake’s philanthropy culture to include an appreciation for support. Instead of being apologetic in asking for money, he said Drake should be passionate about inviting others to share in keeping the institution strong.
“What we would hope in a Culture of Philanthropy is to foster an emotional connection for our students, alumni and local community members to have with the university,” Smith said. He invites students and alumni to share their love stories with Drake as one way to connect.
The Student Alumni Association is a new organization that connects students and alumni to engage both in the after-education Drake experience.
“The idea is to have students connect with alumni, not just the people that graduated, but the alumni office in general,” said Amelia Mieth, a senior student alumni ambassador working on the marketing side of the Student Alumni Association.
It’s really more than giving money, she said, it’s about seeing Drake succeed.
“I hope we show them the value of maintaining a life-long relationship with the university and what that can look like,” said Jonathan Brendemuehl, assistant director of alumni and parent programs. “Our students aren’t thinking about being alumni while they’re here, and alumni want to know the students.”
A student-alumni connection can be beneficial to both parties.
Beth Heiter, assistant director for the annual funds program, runs the phone-a-thon program in which students call alumni and ask if they would like to donate to Drake.
“The students get to see how they [alumni] went about the things they accomplished in their life,” Heiter said. “Just being able to listen to the lives of the alumni can help the students say, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do.’”
Aside from hearing alumni’s stories, many students get internships out of relationships with alumni, Heiter said. Also, students get a strong understanding of where the money comes from, such as their scholarships, or whom buildings are named after.
In turn, alumni benefit from knowing students because it gives them a reason to donate. They want to put a face to where that donation is directly going, Heiter said.
One way this campaign is putting a face to Drake is through love stories. There is now a video booth in Olmsted Center where students can record a video to share what they love about Drake over the next two weeks. Alumni are also invited to share their stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If alumni and students were able to connect more, they’d be more willing to connect with the university and give gifts,” Tess Wicks, a sophomore actuarial science and finance major, said.
A Volunteer Leadership Summit celebrating philanthropy will be in Sheslow Auditorium of Old Main from 9 to 11:30 a.m.