The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) presented a bronze Circle of Excellence award in fundraising to Berea College. The award recognizes Berea Patrons, the College’s student philanthropy initiative, as an emerging program.
Student philanthropy is not new to Berea College, but the way gifts are raised through the Berea Patrons program began just four and half years ago. Previously, only graduating seniors were approached about making a donation. Berea Patrons is the first student philanthropy program at Berea College that educates and solicits all students regardless of their class year.
A distinctive part of the program is that students inform, solicit, and steward their peers. The program is housed under the Berea College Student Alumni Council within the Alumni Relations Office. When the Berea Patrons program began in 2013, there were just 249 students participating. During the past four and half years, more students joined and have contributed nearly $95,000.
Lisa Colletti-Jones, coordinator of student, young alumni and volunteer engagement programs says, “Although the majority of Berea’s students are first-generation college attendees and come from homes with an average family income of $28,000, about 95 percent of all Berea Patrons choose to give from their labor paychecks as a recurring gift.”
Colletti-Jones says the goal this academic year was to have 1,000 donors out of the 1,600 students enrolled. That was exceeded with 1,016 donors and $28, 057.61 dollars raised so far this year. Currently the percentage of students contributing outpaces the percentage of alumni contributing by two-to-one.
Another goal of the program is aimed at increasing alumni giving rates as more Berea Patrons graduate over the next five years. Students know the value of the tuition-promise scholarship they receive from Berea College and are willing to help support the school that provides so much for them. Since every student at Berea works in the College Labor Program, they find using payroll deduction to make a gift to the College is easy.
This year’s graduates were the first class who had been immersed in a culture of student giving for all four of their years at Berea. Of the 255 graduates this year, 212 (83 percent) were Berea Patrons.