So Much To Give

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Photo by Dan Loh.

by Alumni Council President Bernadette McFadden Stout ’07

With three kids under the age of 5, I often find myself swaying to the beat of a toddler song without listening to the words. But the lyrics to a song (appropriately titled “I’ve Got So Much to Give” by the Laurie Berkner Band) recently caught my attention:

This is the life I was born to live

And I’ve got so much to give

How and what we give differs for each us and indeed differs at various phases of our lives. In prior columns, I’ve written about ways in which members of your Alumni Council give to Dickinson via their time, energy, knowledge, career opportunities and connections. As we near the end of Dickinson’s fiscal year (June 30), I’d like to spotlight ways in which Alumni Council members share their financial resources.

All 38 Alumni Council members are in the Mermaid Society, which means we give every year to Dickinson. But we contribute in different ways based on our capacity and what’s meaningful. For example:

  • Together, the 38 current members of the Alumni Council have given nearly $1.4 million over the years.
  • Six members have decided to leave a lasting legacy as members of the Old West Society, providing future support to the college through their estate and/ or life income plans.
  • Six members have established scholarships.
  • As a group, our average first-ever gift to Dickinson was $25. As our relationships with the college have grown and expanded, so too has our philanthropy. Many of us are signed up for recurring gifts or have found ways to match our philanthropy through our employers.
  • Current council members represent 722 years of giving to Dickinson. Five members of the Alumni Council have been giving to the college for over 40 years!

These are just some examples of how to give. Each of us should find a way to engage that’s meaningful to us, while remembering that:

  • Participation matters. It’s a factor in college rankings and can be interpreted as a sign of how alumni feel about their alma mater. Dickinson’s participation rate is not where we want it to be and is not reflective of the degree to which our alums say they feel committed to the college. Our participation reached a low of 21% in FY18. We have steadily climbed back, gaining one percentage point each year. We ended 2021 at 23%. Schools such as Gettysburg (25%), Bates (43%) and Colby (41%) do much better. I’m a competitive person and want to see us up our game! Each percentage point is equivalent to 234 donors to Dickinson—a very achievable improvement.
  • All gifts matter. In FY21, the college received 979 of gifts <$25 which added up to $17,019 for the Dickinson Fund. Mermaid Society members contributed more than $14 million in FY21. Their giving made up 93% of all giving to Dickinson. It is incredible to see what can happen when gifts of all sizes come together to make a tremendous impact on Dickinson.

My first gift after graduating from Dickinson was $30; it was what I felt comfortable donating while in graduate school and paying off student loans. The month after my husband and I finished paying off our loans, we donated the equivalent of a monthly student-loan payment to Dickinson as a way of saying thank you. And we have continued increasing our giving each year as our own careers have advanced.

I hope these anecdotes and data inspire you—whether to increase your gift, make a recurring gift or make a financial gift if you haven’t recently (or ever). As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out:

Read more from the spring 2022 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published May 19, 2022