For Augustana donors, Valentine’s Day cards may be coming a little early this year.
On Feb. 6 and 7, Augustana students are encouraged by the advancement office to meet at a table in the commons any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to write thank-you cards for Augustana’s financial patrons. These same cards will then be sent out as Valentine’s Day notes.
“Here’s one more way in which you can give to somebody else,” Augustana Fund Director Corey Camp said.
Love a Donor originated at a different school in contact with Augustana. The success seen by that institution supported the program’s introduction here. Augustana’s model is very similar, but Camp encourages the students to make it their own.
Cards written by students are to be somewhat generic so that any donor can receive it, but personal enough to be individual and thoughtful.
“We’ve provided some guidance, but we really want the students to take it,” Camp said.
Each card comes with an incentive, too – red velvet cupcakes, in line with the Valentine’s Day theme, are being handed out to students who participate: a cupcake for a card, said Katie Foutz, Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations. Stickers and prizes will also be given out to students who take a moment to thank Augustana’s financial supporters.
However, the committee in charge of Love a Donor – a group of students involved in either SKOL or Augustana’s Advancement Ambassadors – also targets specific groups of donors, Foutz said. Athletes will be encouraged to write thank-yous to the Elmen Center donors. Music students will be encouraged to write thank-yous to musical program donors.
In part, these thank-yous are also an attempt to raise awareness toward the high level of involvement that donors play in financing Augustana educations. In fact, student-paid tuition only assuages 65 percent of the cost of education: Augustana’s 6,000 donors – 165 of which are Augustana faculty members – pay for the rest, Camp said.
“We don’t have pixie dust and fairy wands,” Camp said. “Someone has to be at the back funding that.” Because of donations, Augustana students come out of school with debts $1,250 less than the national average.
Valentines will also raise awareness for another cause: the SKOL scholarship. The SKOL scholarship was introduced last year to support students with financial need to continue with their liberal arts education, and is funded by faculty, donors, and students alike. Along with card-making, there will be an option to donate on the 6 and 7: The financial contributions will go toward continuing to fund this scholarship.
Krista Youngberg, a junior SKOL member, is hoping for “a great response” from fellow students. She hopes that students will see Love a Donor as a way “to be able to give my personal thanks to the donor,” she said.
The mailboxes are being stuffed. The emails will be sent out. LCD displays will begin advertising. Napkin holders have been changed. Love a Donor is approaching, and Augustana wants to make sure this Valentine’s Day is unforgettable for students, faculty and donors alike.