Students and Philanthropy

Students and Philanthropy

Philanthropy is everywhere.

You see the disasters on the news, with a plea to help those affected. You watch the commercials asking you to sponsor a child in a developing country. Your friend asks you to donate to a marathon they’re running in to raise money for cancer research. Or it may even be the UNICEF box you wore around your neck as a child while you were out trick-or-treating at Halloween.

People are touched by charities needing support on a daily basis. Seeing as how I’ve recently joined the Seeds of Change team (which focuses on fundraising for grassroots projects on campus) I wanted to find out what students at McGill thought about philanthropy. So I went to campus and surveyed some students to see how they engage with charities.

Do students give?

Yes, they sure do. More than half of the students surveyed have donated to a charity in the past five months, and over 85% have donated in the past year alone! Even with the pressure of paying for school, rent and the myriad of other expenses, students see the social value in donating money to a cause or organization. I was surprised (and glad) to see just how involved students are in 1

Also, it’s about giving within your means.  From the survey, it seems that many young people are engaging with charities and donating what they can.

With a click of a mouse?

Not at all. By far, the most popular way for students to donate is in person. I thought this group of donors would mostly donate online, as students spend a good chunk of their lives surfing the web: catching up on news, shopping, and socializing on sites like Facebook.

But it goes to show, even with the vast amount of time students spend in cyberspace, it’s those personal relationships that speak to them the most. People give to people, bottom line.


The most important discovery I made is that students donate their time and/or money because it makes them feel good. Over half of those polled said that was their main motivator to give.

And that’s the main goal of philanthropy: to help others out without expecting anything in return. We’re used to getting something in exchange for money in our society, but sometimes, the best thing you can get is a fuzzy feeling inside and a smile on your face.

Visit the Seeds of Change website to find out more about the great projects we support.

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