University of Waterloo - a charity?

Alumni relations coop studentsMy name is Raquel Reyes, a third year Environment, Resource and Sustainability student finishing my co-op placement at the Office of Advancement. If all my thoughts about philanthropy can be narrowed down into one quote, it would be this one:

One of the big myths about philanthropy is that it’s all about donating funds for a cause. I like to look at it quite differently. Philanthropy is about giving – not just in monetary terms but also in non-monetary aspects, like time, ideas, or being a volunteer. Donating money is just a small part of philanthropy.

PANKAJ PATEL


Yes, the University of Waterloo is a charity, but it’s more than that. It’s a philanthropic environment and here’s why.

Giving Tuesday poster, saying “My university is a charity?” and “What?”For some back story, the Office of Advancement is composed of six different sectors and each sector has their own focus. Nevertheless, we all share one goal in common: creating, inspiring and engaging relationships with people in order to advance Waterloo. We receive millions of small donations, from $10 to $1,000, from different donors located all over the world. No matter how different each donor may be, they all share one thing in common: their love for Waterloo.

One of the sectors is Annual Giving, the sector I work in. So far, I have helped to maintain meaningful contacts with donors, staff, faculty and retirees through means of communications and volunteering. However, I noticed we don’t connect with students and that now is the time to begin the conversation. But why?

Not many of us acknowledge these donors. I want to change that. I want students to understand the importance of thanking our donors, the value they bring to Waterloo and change the student perspective on the word “charity.” I noticed we tend to think only about animal charity, environmental charities or health charities. We really don’t stop and consider our educational center as a charity. Maybe we are aware, but we don’t feel comfortable calling Waterloo a charity. Thus, I want to create a philanthropic atmosphere among students. No, not in monetary terms, but through appreciation.

Students writing thank you cards to donorsTo achieve this, I'm changing things up and helping students give thanks this Giving Tuesday. This year we will be located at the DC and DP foyers offering a photo booth and cupcakes in exchange for one handwritten thank you card. With the incentive of a cupcake and a photo booth, we are hoping to connect with students and have the opportunity to talk about how donors have helped us enhance our education through scholarships, awards, bursaries, grants, building expansions, books and student wellness.

Philanthropy is the idea of giving. Giving Tuesday will be about giving thanks for our donors’ contributions to our education. I hope this is just the beginnings of a philanthropic environment among Waterloo students.

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