From the UConn Foundation's newsletter, Our Moment (May 2012)
Students graduating in May can now easily turn a long-forgotten $50 deposit that they provided in their very first semester at UConn into a philanthropic gift that will effectively be doubled through alumni matching donations.
In doing so, students are contributing to the effort toward meeting and exceeding the challenges offered by two alumni, David Barton '61 and Denis Nayden '76, '77 (members, UConn Alumni Association). Each has pledged $25,000 to match, dollar-for-dollar, student donations received before June 30, 2012 if student donations reach $50,000, potentially bringing the total goal for student giving and the match gifts to $100,000 for the year. (Link: Related story)
The idea to ask graduating students to donate their $50 deposit was reinvigorated in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, following a presentation to staff by President Susan Herbst about the university's strategic goals, including the need for philanthropy that supports UConn. The option for graduating students to donate back their deposit is already offered at several of UConn's peer institutions, including Penn State and Providence College.
Roxanne Roy, CPA, senior financial planner and advisor, says that the president's talk inspired discussion about how philanthropy among current students could be expanded.
"The idea of asking students to donate their $50 deposit has been on the minds of both the Foundation and University staff for several years," she says. "But the president's vision for how important philanthropy is to UConn really made an impression, as was her call for everyone to be innovative in how they perform their jobs. Within a half-hour of discussing the idea with the Foundation, we had a green light to pursue it. The details have been ironed out quickly through the work of the Bursar's Office and University Information Technology Services. It was really a case of the stars aligning to make it happen."
Roy estimates that, annually, about $350,000 is returned to graduating students from the deposits, after outstanding or unpaid tickets, fines and fees are deducted. An e-mail from the Bursar's Office will be sent to all graduating students during the week of April 23rd, 2012, outlining the option to donate back their deposit, which will require students to do nothing more than follow a link in the e-mail to a Web page that authorizes the unused deposit to become a donation in their name or to remain anonymous.
Student philanthropy at UConn is promoted by the Student Philanthropy Association (SPA) through the Husky Drive campaign. It has been an active presence at campus events and hosts two campus-wide annual activities, Philanthropy Day in the fall semester and Tuition Runs Out Day in the spring. In 2010-2011, more than 500 UConn students made substantial gifts to support UConn, surpassing the goal by raising $34,620 for various programs and organizations at the University. Students from every class contributed, supporting everything from the Fund for UConn to specific areas like the Women's Center and many others.
UConn senior Christina Lawson '12 is a member of the SPA.
"Until I was reminded of it, I had no recollection of even having paid the $50 deposit," she says. "This is a very easy, painless way for students to start their legacy of alumni support for UConn, and help support the university that has meant so much to us during our time here."
For more information about student giving at UConn, please visit huskydrive.uconn.edu