ACU’s newest fundraising goal, Partnering in the Journey Campaign, is to raise $50 million in financial aid to award to students. The campaign, that had already received $15.5 million from donors before it was unveiled, shows a transition from the past fundraising ventures for on-campus building projects to an investment in students on an individual basis.
The initiation of this campaign raises the question of whether alumni are more or less likely to donate to something as intangible as financial assistance for students. There may be more appeal in projects that involve a visible and lasting recognition of the donors, as is the case in building projects.
There also may be a greater feeling of having contributed something substantial when the ribbon is cut on a new building that will be available to students for years to come. That same feeling is not exactly replicated on the giving end when the money is doled out to individuals.
However, we believe students are a worthwhile investment. Though it is not likely that students will agree to tattoo the donor’s name on their arm or wear a t-shirt with their picture on it every day, they will appreciate the donor behind their scholarships just as much, or more than, the donors who built the room they’re learning in.
Scholarships are a legacy that have the potential to live far beyond the students they directly support.
If donors take the opportunity to begin investing in students, it could set the example for generations to come. Students who receive the support and who see firsthand the difference that scholarships can make in other’s futures will be more eager and willing to invest their own money into more scholarships when they are alumni looking to give back to ACU.
Given ACU’s current situation with budget cuts and low enrollment, scholarships could be crucial in helping students afford the raised tuition. Increasing the number of students financially able to attend will help cushion the financial strain on the university and will benefit all students.
The university administration set the goal for the Partnering in the Journey Campaign at $50 million because they thought it would be a reachable goal. The initial fundraising goal for the Rec Center was about $20 million, thus making the new project seemingly ambitious. Time will tell if alumni will step up and make this new campaign possible.