Students in a philanthropy class will distribute $50,000, donated anonymously, to various local nonprofits as part of their coursework.
Dr. Jim Orr, vice president for advancement, teaches the management class on Mondays from 3-5:50 p.m. in the Mabee Business Building. The class was designed by Dr. Jack Griggs and Dr. Jim Litton in the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy in cooperation with the Once Upon a Time Foundation, which conducts the Philanthropy Lab at universities.
“The Griggs Center was set up to advance philanthropy,” Orr said. “This was sort of a way in which we could live into the philanthropy piece of the Griggs Center.”
The course was piloted as a one-hour Honors colloquium last fall, and after the success of the class, the material was expanded to fit a three-hour course.
“Most of us think a lot about how we’re going to get money, but probably very few of us think very seriously about how we’re going to give our money away,” Orr said. “This is a class to ignite the joy of giving.”
Sarah Yarbrough, senior marketing major from Farmer’s Branch, chose to take the course because she plans to pursue a career working for a nonprofit theatre. She said Orr incorporates faith and finance in his lectures.
“The greatest thing is knowing we are going to have an impact on the people we are giving the money to,” Yarbrough said.
At the beginning of each class, Orr will teach about philanthropy and its role in faith, society and the world. Starting in September, students will spend the last part of the class reviewing applications from local nonprofits provided through the Abilene Communities Foundation. In October, students will evaluate the requests and in November they will determine how much and which organizations will receive funding.
“They’re giving away $50,000, and that is going to have an impact,” Orr said. “That’s going to change some people’s lives.”
Because the donation was anonymous, the students are protected from bias. Orr said the students won’t feel like they have to please the donor with their choice of funding.
At the end of the course, students can apply to the Once Upon a Time Foundation’s Philanthropy Lab to attend a philanthropy course with students from other universities.