Over the past academic year, the Class of 2017 has exemplified what it means to give back by collecting more than 600 donations for their Senior Class Gift. Their generosity and hard work will allow future Lehigh students to enjoy a fulfilling college experience.
Chad Davis, former senior director of the Lehigh Fund, said that the senior class’s tradition of raising money for the school is an impactful program at Lehigh.
“It allows for a conversation with students about why philanthropy matters to Lehigh and the role they play in helping Lehigh achieve the great things necessary for the future,” Davis said. “To me, however, the real impact hasn't always been about the money raised as seniors. It's about building an understanding and appreciation for long-term support and establishing a behavior of giving that will last for the next 70 years of their lives.”
Fundraising began in September with the Senior Class Gift Kickoff and has continued throughout the year with various events. Aside from the annual Grad Fair Days in March and the Distribution Days in May where students could make donations, the Senior Class Gift Committee hosted numerous opportunities for giving, including Senior Night gatherings, the Spirit Gloves sale during Lehigh-Lafayette Spirit Week in November, and Lehigh Made Possible in April. The committee, sometimes with the help of the Lehigh Fund, set up tables in popular places around campus to attract, inform, and solicit gifts from students. Tables often included food or games and provided the opportunity for students to start a discussion about their passions and the importance of giving back. Donations made on or before graduation day were counted towards the senior class’s goal.
More than 300 students contributed donations during Grad Fair Days, where seniors ordered caps and gowns. During the event, which took place March 6, 7, and 8 in the Lehigh University Bookstore, the Senior Class Gift Committee members answered questions about the gift challenge and accepted donations. Gifts of any amount were encouraged, although some students chose to give exactly $20.17 to join the 2017 Club or $100 to join the Asa Packer Society, which recognizes the university’s most generous and committed givers.
The focus of this year’s campaign was on the number of donations rather than the amount of the gift.
Donations were also collected during Distribution Days on May 3 and 4, when students picked up their caps and gowns. After giving a gift, students wrote their name on a ping-pong ball and added it to the gift tracker, which served as a visual display of progress.
During Lehigh Made Possible, a three-day event in April that led interactive, informative activities to encourage students to give back, students could participate in specific activities related to philanthropy. The first day was about awareness and offered opportunities for students to get involved through a trivia game. On the second day, the focus was gratitude, and students worked with the Development and Alumni Relations’ Donor Relation’s team to write thank-you cards to Lehigh donors. Students were able to continue writing cards on the third day and were asked to make their own donation to the school.
In April, a senior unity event on the STEPS lawn provided food, games, and photo opportunities while promoting the Senior Class Gift and accepting donations.
“It’s all about participation,” said Caitlin Saunders, associate director, student philanthropy. “The goal was to show students that they have the ability to make a gift that will positively impact someone else’s life.”