I used to fear the Girl Scouts during cookie season either knocking on my door or approaching me outside of the local supermarket targeting my goodwill to buy some of those delicious thin mint cookies. I used to dread the once a month knock on a door from a local neighborhood kid looking for me to buy some wrapping paper I didn't need or some cookie dough I definitely did not want sitting in my freezer giving me the wrong temptation late at night. I used to dread getting phone calls at work from some local cause hitting my company up for $500 here or a $1,000 there. Now, I only dread my alma mater as their level of aggressiveness with fundraising efforts has reached historic proportion.
I went to Boston College, and let's face it at $55,000 or more this year it's certainly not the cheapest school on the block. I did get a great education and had a fantastic life living on and off campus in the Chestnut Hill area. I'm also inclined to give a donation here and there to support the school. I don't know about your alma mater, but mine has literally gone out of control with the amount of times they ask me for money.
As of 2011, here are some sobering statistics. Harvard has roughly a 32 billion dollar endowment. Yale has a 19.4 billion dollar endowment. Princeton is over 17 billion dollars in their endowment. In fact, there are over 75 colleges and universities today that have over a 1 billion dollar endowment (source: www.wikipedia.org). The ballooning endowments are all happening at a time in our history where poverty is reaching all time highs, unemployment is close to 9%, and college costs seem to be one of the rare sectors where prices seem to defy gravity in this tough economy. According to Wikipedia, Boston College has close to a 1.5 billion dollar endowment.
A few months ago, I realized just how out of control Boston College is with its fundraising efforts. I counted 27 consecutive days in a row where they called my house looking for donations until eventually I told the student dialer to take me off of the list. Yet, a week later I got another solicitation in the mail. A week later . . . another donation mailer request from Boston College. Then, I got a free calendar following by a mailer asking for donations to see if I enjoyed the calendar. At my recent 20 year reunion drive, I got paid a visit from a nice young woman asking me for a small donation of $25,000 to complete the gifting pyramid goal they had for the class of 1991. Nothing huge, just a mere $25,000. The really funny thing is that every time I donate to the school, it seems like more people call asking me for even more donations.
I never thought I would say this, but I'm really sick and tired of my college calling me. Part of the fun of giving and being charitable is to be able to give from your heart. Or, when the kids knock on your door you get that satisfaction of helping a youngster in the neighborhood knowing that your kids are going to need some of that reciprocal help from your neighbors at some other time. We've all bought candy bars, decals, or something we really didn't need to help out kids in the community.
Our colleges should know better. At a time when people are down and out hurting in this economy, they should be spending $100 million of these endowments to help many more kids get an education or cutting the cost of education while instead they are doing exactly the opposite. I don't know about you, but just put me on the do not call list. Gifts should mean something, and I'm not an ATM machine and neither are you. How's that for gifting 101!
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc
Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS), Member FINRA/SIPC. Oxygen Financial is not affiliated with NFPAS. NFPAS does not provide tax or legal advice. This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered Representatives and Investment Advisor Representatives of NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS) may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed. For additional information, please contact NFPAS Compliance Department at 512-697-6000. PLEASE NOTE: The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of the web sites provided here, you are leaving this web site. NFP Advisor Services, LLC makes no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these web sites. Nor is NFP Advisor Services, LLC liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, web sites, information and programs made available through this web site. When you access one of these web sites, you are leaving our web site and assume total responsibility and risk for your use of the web sites you are linking to.