Your time at college is some of the best years of your life. The people you meet, your involvement with your school, and sports. But after graduating college, does staying connected with your university just mean giving them a sizeable donation? No. Donations are a great way to give back, but an even better way to give back to the future minds at your alma mater is by donating your time and your experiences.
I currently work as a Student Ambassador for Central Washington University’s Donor Relations Department. My job consists of pulling up spreadsheets of people who have previously donated, alumni that have never donated, or even parents that have students currently attending CWU. I make anywhere from 90-120 calls a shift asking people if they would like to give back and donate toward student emergency funds, programs, and scholarships that are offered. Some people are very generous and want to give, for others it's difficult due to the pandemic, and many are tight on funds or still completely out of a job. A lot of people tell me they want to give back, but they can’t afford to. I recently learned other ways on how you can give back.
Every month we have a speaker from a different area of Donor Relations that comes on Zoom and speaks with us about what they do. The speaker emphasizes how important our jobs are for bringing in funding to the university. Just a couple of weeks ago we had two Wildcat Ambassadors speak with us about their roles in donor relations. They work specifically with alumni and take on different parts of Washington State to keep alumni involved and a part of special events just for them. When talking about past events, a lot of them had a common theme, alumni would come and speak and put on a specific speaking engagement to talk to certain students that were heading into the field that the speaker was currently in. It got me thinking, does the younger alumni over the past five years know that they can give back just by speaking about their college experience, and how it transferred into the work field? Surprisingly, when I asked our two Wildcat Ambassadors this question, she said a lot of alumni do reach out to get involved and speak about different topics, however, it is great to spread the word. I personally benefit from hearing from a lot of our older generations. They have so much life experience and have gone through more than we could ever imagine. It is interesting to hear about their past experiences in college and how starting a career has evolved.
How does alumni engagement benefit the future? It helps in numerous ways. For the student who is not quite sure what path to go down, that one alumni speaker could resonate with them and help get that student passionate about some field. It's all about shaping the future and leading them to success. Don’t forget that your diploma is an investment into your future and by investing in your future, you eventually find the significance of wanting to give back. Whether it’s donating money or wanting to get students excited about a career path, the options are available, and your university will be grateful. Support the future and help shape the generations to come.