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Scarlet and give back day 2018

Topics/tags: Grinnell, miscellaneous

For the past few years, the College has been doing a one-day fundraiser that they call Scarlet and Give Back Day [1]. One-day fundraisers seem to be a relatively new phenomenon that has spread to many different schools. I know that my undergraduate alma mater has one, as does Michelle’s [2]. If the past ones at Grinnell are representative, we traditionally set some goal (e.g., number of donations) and some alum generously donates extra money [3,4]. Sometimes other things happen, too. For example, last year Athletic Director Andy Hamilton ’85 agreed to dye his hair red if some number of people donated to athletics [6].

Why do we have these days? In part, because they raise a substantial amount in one day. More importantly, because they get people to think more actively about giving to Grinnell.

As I’ve written previously, I think it’s worthwhile to donate to Grinnell, even though Grinnell has a massive endowment. Why? A number of reasons. The most obvious is that expenses are going up faster than the endowment. We use our endowment for good things: If I recall correctly, Grinnell has under 30% students whose families should be able to afford our tuition as compared to most of our need blind SLAC [7] peers, who have about 70% families who can afford the full tuition. That means that Grinnell does better than its peers [8] at providing a top-notch education to large numbers of high-need students [9]. That’s a worthwhile use of the endowment and one of the reasons its worth giving your money to Grinnell.

It’s also worth donating to individual departments. In my experience, every department benefits from a little extra money that is not associated with a particular expected expense. CS, for example, uses donations to support community and learning. Funds help with snacks for class presentations, meals for research students, SEPC activities, student trips to conferences and hack-a-thons, and much, much more. That is to say, folks here do our best to use targeted donation money well.

So I support Scarlet and Give Back Day. I tell my students that I know that they and their parents already give an enormous amount to this College. And they do, even if they have a lot of financial aid. But I also ask them to think about how special this school is and to consider whether on this day they could give just a little more to acknowledge that. I know that not all can, so I try not to push too hard. But I let them know it’s important to me, and I offer a modicum of extra credit to demonstrate that importance [10].

It appears that I’ve been vocal enough in my support that I’ve been asked to be a Celebrity Operator [12]. So if you call and donate between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Central Time on Thursday, there’s a chance you can speak with me. Or you can call in the afternoon and speak with President Kington. I believe that the legendary Monessa Cummins is staffing the phones from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. central time. There are also other cool celebrity operators all day long There are so many operators that you might even consider calling and donating multiple times. Give to scholarship funds. Give to CS [14]. Give to mental health. Give to a club sport, like Ultimate or Water Polo. Give to something else you value at the College. But please give.

Thanks in advance!

[1] Grinnell’s colors are scarlet and black and its newspaper is the Scarlet and Black.

[2] Of course, we have the same alma mater.

[3] Everyone knows that the alum planned to give the money anyway. It’s just a good incentive.

[4] I keep hoping that the generous alums will give their matching dollars to the same recipient. So, if I were to give $100 to the mental health fund [5], it would end up with $200. But that of matching hasn’t happened yet. The matching just means that we give the same amount to the College that you’ve given to your favorite recipient.

[5] Yes, we have a mental health fund. Among other things, it helps pay for care for students without sufficient insurance when they get help off campus.

[6] I offered to offer to cut my hair Bozo style, but no one thought that was a good challenge.

[7] Selective Liberal Arts Colleges

[8] Except for Berea.

[9] Of course, with all those full-pay or near-full-pay students, the other colleges can often give more support to the high-need students who do end up at those colleges.

[10] Of course, I also invoke my normal policy for extra credit opportunities that cost money [11].

[11] Sorry, that policy is not public.

[12] Whoops! I forgot to ask my advisory board before saying yes. But it’s only a one-hour commitment, plus travel time.

[14] If you are feeling particularly generous, we could use an endowed chair or two.

Version 1.0 of 2018-04-02.