The iPod Giveaway was part of a Celebration Campaign sponsored by SAA and Partners in Annual Giving (the St. Olaf alumni annual fund) to educate students on alumni giving. As you may know, over 11,000 alums and 2,500 parents support the college every year with a donation to the annual fund. Encouraging philanthropy at an early age has proven successful in creating a long-term giving relationship with the college.
St. Olaf students will, no doubt, benefit from such a campaign and is the reason why SAA organizes it. In fact, over the course of our Celebration Campaign, the number of seniors who pledged to give money to the Partners annual fund increased from 351 student to 443 students.
Since the foundation of SAA, purposeful efforts to educate students about alumni giving have raised the participation rate of the Senior Campaign. In 2000, only eight percent of the Senior class pledged to give. Just five years later, 83 percent of the class of 2005 pledged.
It is also important to note that the Student Alumni Association did not, in fact, give away an iPod. Our $2,058.73 annual budget would not have allowed for such a giveaway. The $199 (not $400, as was stated in the article) iPod was actually donated by the Partners in Annual Giving office, and because of the abovementioned facts, we believe their donation was well worth it. We are happy to report that over 620 students visited the special SAA/Partners website and participated in the drawing.
We understand the point of your article: Giveaways are starting to become the norm around campus. But before you rush to critique those giveaways, be sure to understand why they have been implemented. SGA is doing some valuable things with its money for all students on campus, and we think its important to recognize that fact.
In your editorial, you call for lobbying efforts. Did you know that on April 6, a group of students rallied to save state grants in Minnesota? The event was called Day at the Capitol, and anyone was welcome to come. In your editorial, you also call for more events for all students. Did you know that on April 24, SAA sponsored an alumni forum to prepare students for life after the Hill? Again, all Oles were welcome. These are just two examples.
Clearly both of our organizations are committed to the well-being of the St. Olaf community, and if you think cutting back on giveaways would be consistent with this commitment, were happy to listen. However, we all need to work with the same accurate information. We look forward to continuing this conversation.
The Student Alumni Association