The kick-off celebration featured speeches by President David R. Anderson 74 and by Henkel and Tompsett. Seniors were given a free T-shirt with the phrase Give money, yes? written on it in Norwegian and free pizza if they filled out a pledge card.
Henkel and Tompsett emphasized the importance of pledging money early, no matter how little the amount. Giving early, even a small donation, establishes your relationship with the college, Henkel said.
Sixty-five seniors who are members of the Senior Giving Campaign Committee, answered student questions about where donations would be going and how joining the Partners in Annual Giving program helps fund the college.
Henkels speech also explained the giving program and its three main initiatives: raising pledges for Partners in Annual Giving, educating the senior class about the importance of giving back to St. Olaf and encouraging class unity and camaraderie.
People need to understand how much their donations help the college, Henkel said. Henkel, who studied abroad in Mexico last spring, understands how necessary alumni donations are to students at St. Olaf. If it wasnt for the Partners program and their generous giving I may not have been able to afford studying abroad, Henkel said.
Anderson and his wife Priscilla Paton attended the kick-off event. Anderson, himself an alumni donor, spoke of how important it is to commit to philanthropic giving at a young age. Giving money to the college helps cover the gap between tuition and endowment, Anderson said. In order to keep St. Olaf affordable for families, we need alumni giving.
Henkel and Tompsetts goal is to have 85 percent participation in giving from the senior class. If the class of 2007 has 85 percent participation, they will beat the class of 2005s 83 percent.
The size of the gift is not as important as the idea behind it, Henkel said in her speech. Even gifts of $10, $15, $20, $25 all make a difference. Were all heading out into the real world, and we all understand that huge gifts arent possible at this point in our lives. But participating as a class is important, and we want to show the College how much we value our experiences here.
After Thursday, the campaign had pledges from just over 300 seniors, which meant the event shot the committee more than halfway past their goal.
Were really, really excited about the results, Henkel said. We have a very enthusiastic and hard-working committee who are very dedicated to the Partners program.
The kick-off was the first in many events sponsored by the Senior Giving Campaign. On March 18, Alan Norton, vice president and treasurer of the College, will give a speech during community time that further explains how alumni donations are used by the College. In April, Dean of Students Greg Kneser will take seniors up into the Old Main tower to sign their names as part of a St. Olaf tradition.