McKendree leader might have to fork over $10,000 for Giving Tuesday program

McKendree University leaders hope area residents will remember the school and its contributions to the community when they decide how they want to observe Giving Tuesday.

Scheduled for Dec. 1 this year, Giving Tuesday is a day during the holiday season where people are encouraged to think about giving back.

“This is the first time we have participated in Giving Tuesday,” said Vincent Piazza, director of annual giving at McKendree in Lebanon. “We decided to do it because online philanthropy has greatly increased in recent years. It’s a great way to connect with people who live in this busy world.”

Giving Tuesday was founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City and the United Nationals Foundation as a response to the expansion of holiday consumerism. Held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it was intended as a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Piazza said McKendree’s goals aren’t based on how much individuals give. It’s about getting as many individuals as possible to give something.

“We’ve had a trustee issue a $10,000 challenge,” Piazza said. “If 500 donations are made, no matter the amount, the anonymous trustee will donate $10,000.”

Piazza said the money raised is expected to go into the school’s general fund which will allow it to be part of a pool of money used as financial aid and incentives for students.

Tony Viviano, a senior from St. Jacob studying business management, has participated in the fundraising efforts. He said a donation to local education is timely because of the state’s budget crisis.

The lack of a budget has caused the state to stop paying some of its bills including grant money that helps fund students’ college education. If the budget stalemate isn’t broken soon, other sources must be found to help pay tuition.

“Giving Tuesday is very important, with the current financial state it’s even more important to remember our university,” Viviano said. “I haven’t only got an education here. I’ve learned life skills, leadership skills...Things I don’t think people always get at other schools.”

Viviano, who said he personally plans to donate $20-$40, said he wants to see 100 percent of McKendree alumni give something.

“That’s what we’re shooting for, 100 percent response from alumni.” Viviano said. “Especially from young alumni and soon to-be-alumni like me. It’s not about the amount. It’s about the philanthropy.”

Viviano said he is mindful of giving something back because, as he prepares to leave McKendree when he graduates in three weeks, his sister, Angela, is just getting ready to start classes there.

“It’s time for me to start thinking about giving something back,” Viviano said. “It’s time to think about the people who will come here after we’re gone.”

Giving Tuesday is very important, with the current financial state it’s even more important to remember our university. I haven’t only got an education here. I’ve learned life skills, leadership skills...Things I don’t think people always get at other schools.

Tony Viviano, a McKendree University senior

Senior Rhoda Warner, a double-major in psychology and religious studies from Springfield, said she also believes it’s important for departing seniors to make sure the students that follow have the same advantages as current students.

“I think it’s important because students of McKendree should be prepared for the responsibility of giving back as an alumni,” Warner said. “It helps the university for the future and it also helps to keep us connected.”

Warner said Giving Tuesday is a great way to establish a relationship with the alumni of the future.

“We millennials are constantly on the internet, that’s what we’re known for,” Warner said. “Giving Tuesday is internet-based. So it’s a great way to communicate with future alumni on their their terms.”

The hard part is getting previous generations of students to buy into the concept of online giving.

“It’s been funny talking to alumni who are a little bit older who say, ‘I don’t know about that whole social media thing,’” Warner said. “But once they get on the website, they discover it’s so easy. It’s something that can be done in five minutes.”

In addition to advertising the Giving Tuesday fund drive on social media and the McKendree website, students have been promoting it the old-fashioned way with an information booth at home football games, T-shirts to wear around campus and a word-of-mouth campaign.

“I really am confident that we’re going to get to the 500 mark,” Warner said. “We’re working really hard to make as many connections as possible.”

Giving Tuesday has increased in popularity around the globe. According to statistics compiled by internet donation processors, $10 million was collected on the first Giving Tuesday in 2012 for hundreds of different charities and organizations. About $28 million was collected in 2013 and $45.8 million was collected in 2014.

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