The face of philanthropy is changing and skewing younger.
In recent years, college students and the millennial generation have become more involved in causes they care about, according to The Millennial Impact’s “10 Years Looking Back” report. They also want to create change in their communities, the report said.
Randall Deike, senior vice president for enrollment management and student success at Cleveland State University; Kate McDade, executive director of development at Cuyahoga Community College; Charles M. Miller, senior director of planned giving at Case Western Reserve University; and Julie Rehm, vice president of advancement and executive director of the Cleveland State University Foundation, all in Cleveland, said colleges are finding ways to connect their students to purposes they believe in.
“Student philanthropy is driven by students and their passion to make a difference in our community,” McDade stated. “Fortunately, many of our students have received assistance through scholarship support or even through contributions to the student emergency fund. Knowing firsthand how much that support helped them, often our students look for ways to give back and pay it forward.”
At Tri-C, McDade said there are many philanthropic activities led by students that cover a wide variety of interests.
“Students work with the program directors and faculty members that lead their programs or clubs to decide on projects that can make an impact in the community,” she said. “For example, the Hospitality Management Center at Public Square hosted a Chinese buffet for Stone Soup CLE, a nonprofit food rescue service dedicated to helping the hungry.”
For students at Cleveland State, opportunities run the gamut. From the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Boys and Girls Club to Holden Arboretum and Providence House, students can find a cause that aligns with their views.
“Students here are very prideful and they are so incredibly happy to be here, and have a lot of pride in everything occurring at Cleveland State and the community, Rehm noted. “That energy and positivity helps the university and helps in our philanthropic endeavors.”
Deike said philanthropy is about passion and can help students explore what they care about.
“A lot of it is about the doing, but it’s also how you feel about giving back, helping those less fortunate or doing something you’re passionate about,” he said. “That is the most important part – seeing your role in the community. It’s a lot about how it makes you feel as you think about committing to those passions.”
Philanthropic opportunities at CWRU are first about education, helping students understand the value of helping others, Miller said.
“In some instances, those contributions to a cause take the form of volunteering their time and skills, and in others, it involves raising money,” he explained. “In all instances, the ultimate goal is to make a positive impact in the world.”
Specific groups at CWRU have different initiatives in place to get students engaged, Miller said. For example, the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning offers students opportunities to serve and learn more about the community. Within Greek life, service is an integral part of pledging.
Even if students don’t continue their philanthropic journey past college, learning philanthropic skills can help in the long run.
“If someone asked you to picture a philanthropist, chances are a billionaire like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates would come to mind,” Miller stated. “Yet, a single person of modest means can make an enormous difference in the lives of others. Our students experience the power of an individual’s involvement.”
McDade said, “Philanthropic activities help individuals understand the impact we can make on the lives of others.”
Rehm and Deike said philanthropic involvement also teaches students about the examples they set every day for others.
“They can quickly see they’re setting an example for their peers and have a good time doing it,” Rehm said.
Deike said, “It’s very important to take a broad view of giving back to the community. That teaches students to not only be proud of their community but want to be part of it too.”