Summer 2016

Philanthropy 101

Photo by Bryan Jonathan Photography

How do you cultivate a spirit of philanthropy in students before they graduate? Schools nationwide are finding ways to respond to that question. At the U of M’s Carlson School of Management, the answer was a fun-filled noon-hour event called Gopher Gratitude, held October 2015 for the entire Carlson School community.

“Nearly every aspect of the school is supported by donors, from the building to the faculty to scholarships,” says Sara Emmenecker, assistant director of annual giving. “My colleagues and I wanted to raise awareness about that and encourage students to express gratitude to donors with handwritten notes.”

Thanks to a student ambassador group who spread the word, turnout was remarkable. Students lined up early for free T-shirts and pizza, wrote 324 thank-you notes, and were featured in photos and video footage. The video was later shared on Give to the Max Day, and each donor who made a gift received one of the handwritten notes.

“Gopher Gratitude is a great way to plant a seed about the incredible power of giving,” says Emmenecker, who plans on repeating the program.