Seniors join in tradition of philanthropy through donations

Matthew Sheridan

This year the University launched For the Greater Great®: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change. The most ambitious in the school’s history, this campaign seeks to raise $600 million toward the endowment, academic and programmatic priorities, facilities and an annual fund dedicated to supporting a number of initiatives around the campus. Most people think of this project, and alumni funding as a whole, to come from rich, older donors who are well established and secure in their lives both professionally and personally. However, that is not exactly the case. The Senior Class Gift program seeks to include graduating seniors in the the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change by encouraging a donation of $20.14, symbolic of their year of graduation. “The Class of 2014 is the first graduating class to participate in the public phase of the campaign,” says JC Lamb ’11, ’14, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Philanthropy & Young Alumni Giving. “Together, their gifts will drive the campaign forward and set the precedent for senior’s to follow in the coming years.” These donations go to the individual program indicated by the senior, and together comprise the Senior Class Gift. “There’s a common misconception that the Senior Class Gift supports a single project,” Lamb adds. “The wonderful part about our Senior Class Gift is that each senior chooses what he or she would like to personally support, and his or her gift goes toward that program.” To help students learn more about The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change, the Villanova Annual Fund and Senior Class Gift Committee hosted the first annual Philanthropy Phestival outside the Oreo on Thursday, April 24. The Phestival consisted of numerous student groups and activities that receive donations from alumni every year in addition to seniors as a part of the Senior Class Gift. The Phestival was also open to underclassmen simply interested in learning more about on campus student groups. “The Philanthropy Phestival is an innovative and interactive way for students to start thinking about what it means to give back to Villanova,” Lamb says. The Philanthropy Phestival benefits the student groups involved as well, as they created awareness about their cause and gained more donations that are vital to their continued success. “LEVEL really enjoyed the opportunity to thank our alumni supporters through the Philanthropy Phestival,” Rachel Lee, junior, of LEVEL says. “Without their help, we could never have pulled off Casino Night, our fall retreat or any of the social events we held this year.” One thing the Senior Class Gift committee wanted was a way to entice students to donate to the campaign in addition to the sheer satisfaction of giving back to the University.  As a result, they worked with VU Seniors to create the Phillies 1st Pitch Senior Incentive. This incentive offered one student who made a donation to be randomly selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citizen Bank Park on Tuesday, May 13 for the Philadelphia Phillies game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Brian Goundie, a senior Chemical Engineering major and lifelong Phillies fan, was the student selected to throw out the first pitch. “I was both shocked and thrilled that I was selected to throw the first pitch,” Goundie says. “At first I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke on me because they knew how much I wanted to be picked.” Senior Class Gift donations can go toward any area of campus. Like many students, Goundie’s gift went to a group that had an impact on him during his time at the University-the Freshman Learning Communities. “I made so many of my closest friends through all the great freshman learning communities on campus, that when the time came to make my Senior Class Gift, donating to the freshman learning communities was an easy choice,” Goundie says. The opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game is any fan’s dream, and Brian Goudie gets to live that dream thanks to his Senior Class Gift. Last year, 24 percent of alumni as a whole donated to the University. Seniors, however, had a 50 percent giving rate, best of all time. This year, the goal is to surpass that 50 percent rate. Thus far, 40 percent of seniors have donated, or 600 overall senior deniors. “Alumni support is an important part of Villanova’s success, so the Senior Class Gift invites seniors to join the tradition of philanthropy by making their first gift before they graduate,” Lamb says. The Senior Class Gift offers students the opportunity to give back to the University in a way that is individualized for them, but is also a joint effort with the rest of their class to further campus initiatives.