Whilst a student at The University of York, England, where I was one of only 9,400 undergraduates, the chances of seeing a familiar face whether out shopping or on a night out in one of the city’s many pubs, was fairly high. In fact, part of the appeal of York was that in a city so small and quaint, there’d never be an opportunity to get lost in the crowd; I was part of the York community and that filled me with pride.
That must be music to York University’s ears, even though I haven’t yet supported my alma mater financially. Having worked at McGill University learning about fundraising for the past three months, I think I understand why I haven’t yet given to York: I haven’t been asked.
Even though I graduated over a year ago, I am yet to be asked to make a gift to York, and whilst I might not be able to give a substantial amount, as an employed graduate with few commitments, I’d be more than happy to give a small gift. As McGill has discovered with its Class Action Program, students can also be enthusiastic donors.
Class Action is an annual fundraising initiative enabling students of all years to propose and select a project that they want to fundraise for, and leave as a gift to McGill for their graduating year. Prior to working at McGill, I would have been skeptical as to how successful a Class Action Program could be at a university as large as McGill. With over 25,000 undergraduate students, it could swallow York whole. And yet I have found that many students are eager to join with their classmates and support their university.
Students are passionate about choosing their Class Action project and have eagerly shared their thoughts with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Seeing how the message of Class Action spreads so quickly throughout the McGill community only causes me to imagine how successful it would have been at York, where everyone knew each other and the message of class giving would have travelled so easily.
It saddens me to think that I, and students at many universities across the UK, are missing out on programs like Class Action. To hear the enthusiasm that students have for the program, and to see that they are glad to give $20.12, a symbolic amount to represent their graduating year, makes me determined to go back to England and promote the idea of Class Action amongst my colleagues.
McGill students have shown that giving as a class can be a great way to forge a link between their friends and their alma mater. Students want to support their university but if they are not asked, how can they? And for sure there will be some students who decide not to give, but McGill has shown that it is important to give students a voice and an opportunity to decide if Class Action is something that they’d like to support.
Guest blogger, Lucy Johnson, has been working as the CASE Development Trainee at McGill University since September 2011. After graduating in 2010 from The University of York, England, she worked in Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Manchester. This was a great learning experience, but to develop her fundraising skills further, she decided to complete a placement at McGill and learn about programs that are less well known in England, for example the Parents Program and Class Action. She plans to take the skills that she has gained at McGill back to England so that she can help develop fundraising initiatives at universities in the U.K.