The class of 2017 claims 45 percent participation in alumni donations this year, the highest percentage from a recently graduated class to date.
More than 2,000 alumni donated $5.2 million to Hillsdale College from July 2016 to June 2017.
The officers of the class chose to partner with the 1844 Society by donating to the Ransom Dunn Scholarship Fund, according Colleen McGinness, director of strategic partnership and student giving, in an email. Four seniors from the class of 2017 received this scholarship, thanks to donations from the class of 2016, and three current seniors are now receiving monies donated from the class of 2017.
“The money doesn’t just got to a Central Hall-shaped piggy bank,” McGinness said. “It actually goes to an immediate cause — scholarships that help current students.”
According to the President’s Report for the 2016 – 2017 year, the cost of providing an education for one student at Hillsdale College is $72,000 per year, a cost already cut in half because of the donors. In addition, nearly all students — 98 percent — receive additional financial aid.
The average college or university receives one-third of its total funding from the government. Because Hillsdale College does not accept any government funding, including government loans or the GI Bill, donors are the biggest source of funding. The marketing department targets three types of people for scholarship donations: “fans and friends” of the college, alumni, and current students. Friends of the college, people not affiliated with the college directly, donate the most: 88 percent of total scholarship donations.
The 1844 Society currently uses Give Campus, a website for students to donate online.
One 2017 alumna, Anna Goodwin, said she donated to the scholarship fund over Venmo.
Junior and 1844 Society President Shelby Bargenquast joined the society as a sophomore and said she believes in the importance of giving back to the school in a manner that impacts current students.
“Some students can’t come back due to unforeseen financial circumstances,” Bargenquast said. “Being able to help means a lot, and I find it rewarding to give back.”
The 1844 Society’s three-pronged mission statement emphasizes the importance of gratitude, stewardship, and service, and the Society encourages students and alumni to donate both to the Ransom Dunn Scholarship and to various other programs, including the current campaign for athletic scholarships.
Last year’s 1844 Society members, which included students from the classes of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, donated a total of $23,859 and have pledged another $68,000 in donations to scholarship programs. This was raised by the semesterly dues of $18.44, as well as the promise to donate $184.44 within three years of graduating from the college.
“There is a difference with our alumni,” McGinness said. “You can’t force this type of gratitude.”