Sunday, May 30, 2010

Scholarships: The charitable donation loans?

There are so many reasons why people give. They care a great deal, know a friend who is involved with the cause, are related to someone intimately affected by the issue, want to see their name listed in a annual report, are unable to offer the time to volunteer but can give dollars, etc. These, amongst others, are some of the more common reasons people make charitable contributions. At a meeting of alumni of the Humphrey Institute Policy Fellows program earlier this week, we discussed the need to continue supporting current program participants with scholarships. As the program costs rise in a challenging economy, this program's invaluable opportunity to connect with other civically-minded and emerging leaders is needed more than ever. A current Fellow in the room, who stated explicitly what I've come to feel over time, shared that he views his scholarship like a short-term loan. He was given a program waiver of $1600 and his assumption is that he will, over the next four years, give $400 per year in donations to the program. And likely, more in the future, as he continues to see the fruits of his participation in the program in his life. Do you have this same sense about some of your donations? I've felt this way about the Tri-College NEW Leadership Institute, the Emerging Leaders Network, and other powerful programs I'm grateful I have been able to take part in over the years. Are we paying back (in charitable contributions) the scholarships that were afforded us so that others are able to participate in the same educational and inspiring programming that helped to get us to where we are today? Rather than calling it paying it back, perhaps we should then refer to it as paying it forward. PARALLEL || POSTS

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