Before you graduate college you should probably know…

Kelly Skahan

If there’s one thing Villanova has focused on this school year, it’s giving back to the community. Last weekend’s Day of Service kicked off a calendar full of opportunities to serve, and countless students are helping to plan out and execute dozens of Habitat trips, service break experiences and the Special Olympics Festival to cap off the semester.

Post-graduation, it takes a little more maneuvering to give back to the community, however. Without weekly meetings in the Sheehan lounge or a Bartley lecture hall, it becomes much more difficult to stay involved in community service, and many students become less and less involved as the years go by.

When time commitments at a new job restrict the hours you can dedicate to service, it’s important to remember that all organizations depend on one thing: donations. Many recent grads are intimidated by the idea of donating to a charitable organization because money is already tight, and in light of the recent economic crisis, it’s become even more difficult to make charitable giving a priority.

What people don’t know is how easy it is to make a difference financially. In the same way many people are hurting for cash these days, charities that already depended on the generosity of others are hurting even more. Every contribution makes a huge difference; Habitat for Humanity says a donation of $10 can provide a box of nails for a project and $35 helps put shingles on a new roof. At Samaritan’s Purse, $30 provides tribal communities with proper midwife training and supplies, and just $9 feeds a baby for a week.

It’s not hard to accumulate that much change when you really think about it. By downgrading your latte from a venti to a tall just twice a month, you’ll accumulate enough money by the end of the year to send a fully caffeinated and guilt-free check to your favorite charity in the amount of 25 bucks without much skimping at all. To up the ante, skipping a night of happy hour twice a month can add up to $50 worth of spare cash a charity could desperately use.

Aside from raising money, it’s easy to actually make the donation to most of these charities. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of organizations looking for donations, and usually it’s just a matter of entering a credit card number or licking an envelope to get your money on its way to helping someone.

Most organizations actually prefer a credit card donation; it makes for more environmentally friendly giving, allows them to use the money the next day and saves the donor time and money in postage.

Also check out your new employer to see if it matches donations. Many companies now encourage giving by offering matching gifts to charitable institutions whenever their employees donate, and a quick check on your employer’s Web site will often tell you what forms to fill out and where to send the paperwork to make sure your donation is doubled.

Many organizations also offer an incentive for consistent donors.

The American Cancer Society allows you to make a donation in memory or in honor of a loved one, and it will send a card to that person’s family. Last but not least, the Villanova Annual Fund offers a package with homecoming tickets, food vouchers and a memento to young alumni who donate over $150 to the University.