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Not Sure What to Think of This Way of Asking for Money


For the most part, we have not been giving monetary contributions to charities during the year. I do volunteer work during the year as well as donate goods. At the end of the year, we budget for a big donation to one organization as well as go on a shopping spree for toys for tots. It simplifies things for us.

Our alma mater is persistent with receiving a donation from us. The telephone calls have finally stopped, but they still send mail at least once a month. We may give them money at some point, but not right now and if we give money it would be for a specific program. I’m not too sure what to think of their latest plea for money.

My husband and I received a Valentine’s Day card congratulating us on our college romance. It was cute up until the last paragraph where they asked us to consider a gift to them in celebration of our romance. That changed the whole tone of the card.

It’s almost like giving an anniversary card to your parents and then at the bottom asking for a loan. It seems very tacky. Maybe I’m being overly critical – what do you think?


  • Reply Mr Plasectomy |

    Lol, apparently they must have forgot that you paid for the education you received there.

    That is pretty low and inappropriate.

    Call me crazy, I just don’t think that I should have to continue to make donations to place that I PAID to receive an education. Most of us walked away with student loans and are still paying for them. If I make a donation it would be several years later when my loan debt is gone.

    We were bombarded with these requests as well, but never like that.

  • Reply Sherri |

    My alma mater is a VERY expensive school (luckily I got a lot of scholarships and only needed to take out a little bit in loans). They do a lot of direct solicitation, although I do not think it is monthly. However, they do a lot of things to keep in contact with me where they never ask for a donation in these contacts. I get newsletters, alumni reunion notifications, and also email contact with updates about the university news. They’ve asked me to be a career advisor for current students. I think it probably works for them. I know when I get a solicitation I think, wow, I get a lot of contact with them and they so ‘rarely’ ask for money. Granted I haven’t given anything, and not sure when and if I will since my giving priorities are elsewhere right now, but I think the technique works as far as fostering a community with their alumni. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to give back by being a career advisor to current students interested in my field, or participate as an alumni interviewer once or twice a year. I bet if they hadn’t asked you for a donation in that card you would have had good feelings about the school. Some people who got that kind of card without any solicitation might be so moved to give anyway.

  • Reply James |

    Schools are ridiculous with that stuff. I remember they were hitting us up for money before we even graduated. Hijacking us in the line you had to wait in for your cap and gown.

  • Reply E.D. |

    Very tacky.

    We also get regular phone calls and mailings. We don’t send money to our undergraduate school because of the shoddy way they treat the undergraduates. We do send directly to DH’s fraternity and my co-op.

  • Reply Aristotelian |

    Do you mind disclosing your college? I’d like to know what institution would stoop so low. I have given occasionally to my alma mater, but something like this would turn me off for a long time.

  • Reply SabbyAnn |

    Michigan Tech just send us a Valentine’s Day card, sounds very similar to the one you received (picture of two intertwined hearts drawn in snow on the cover, with a quote by Robert Frost).

    I thought it was cute. I liked that they chose something different, instead of the phone calls by current students and the normal mailings.

    We don’t give much, and we certainly don’t give every time they call or mail us something, but we do make a few small donations each year to our school. Even though we’ll be paying on our student loans for another 15+ years, I know that I received an excellent education & had many unique opportunities… I want to make sure that those things are possible for future students as well.

  • Reply The Weakonomist |

    My alma mater is always calling me as well. My response is they tried to convince me to stay another year to get more money. Had they not tried to get more tuition out of me then I might donate.

    They have tried similar tactics with me. My diploma at graduation was a flier asking for donations!

  • Reply Jennifer |

    You can always call the school and ask to be taken off of all mailing and contact lists. They should honor that.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Aristotelian – I don’t want to call them out on it, but it sounds like I wasn’t the only one who got a Valentine’s card aka “Send us money” card.

    Weakonomist – thankfully our diplomas were flier-free.

    Mr Plasectomy – that’s pretty much our philosophy too. If we are still paying for student loans, we are not ready to donate.

    Jennifer – there are some mailings that we like to get like newsletters and such. At least the calls have stopped.

  • Reply Debtfree2009 |

    Universities are feeling the pinch just like the rest of us. Not only have their endowments suffered so have donations.

    I’m not saying that the fund raising isn’t excessive but try to understand where they are coming from.

    I personally would rather get a card in the mail than a phone call. Also, remember the newsletters and such cost money to produce.

  • Reply HisHersMoney |

    I receive the same type of requests for donations and as far as I’m concerned I have already paid them for my education. Could you imagine your car dealership sending you a card asking how you are enjoying your car and if you really liked it to come pay them more! Or how about the dinner you made with the groceries you bought at the local grocery store, should you go back and give them more money because you feel like you got good groceries? I do donate and volunteer but I don’t pay extra for things I’ve already paid for and gotten in the past.

  • Reply DCS |

    Ok call me a curmudgeon, but I went to a public university. That means I give every week – says so right on my paycheck (withholding – state of Michigan). I also paid tuition. I did not receive any financial aid from the institution. So no, I have not, and do not intend to, donate money to my alma mater to support “my program” (or to Mazda to support my car maker or to the Wells Fargo to support my mortgage bank).

    Calling before the student loans were even paid off really irked me, and sealed my resolve to never donate.

    I did manage to ditch their constant calls and junk mail. I lived in a house with other housemates, and when I moved out I didn’t file a mail forwarding card. I moved close enough to just pick up anything that came, and notify senders individually of my new address.

    They so far haven’t found me, and instead followed the others that lived there when they moved (and filed a forwarding card, we share an extremely common last name). That was a decade ago and they STILL get calls and mailings even though they’ve repeatedly told callers I don’t live there and never have. I can’t imagine how tenacious they’d be if I actually contributed.

  • Reply LA |

    If I were giving to a scholarship fund, perhaps a cute little reminder might be accepted favorably. I’d rather pay money for a kid to go to school than a school to go for the kid, if you get my meaning.

    My son’s public elementary school PTA is very organized and aggressive about donations of time and money all year long. I do what I can, but again, it’s like you are paying twice— taxes and donations— for public education.

  • Reply emmi |

    My school called and I explained that I had already given quite a bit to our food bank and if I was going to give more money, I would give more to the food bank. And the student who was calling thought that completely reasonable and said, well, if you can toss us $10 that helps because the school ratings in magazines and such count alumni donations into their formulas and we just need to get something from you so you continue to count, and I thought that sounded reasonable and gave them $10.

  • Reply Didi |

    I don’t understand why anyone would give donation money to the college they went to… those that went to school there already paid tuition and usually very expensive tuition at that!! oh and I love the analogy “DCS” used with the cars haha.

    What a tacky way to try and get money. I live in Canada and have never been asked to give money to the college I went to. I usually give my time volunteering to a few charities, toy drives at Christmas time and donate food at Easter and Christmas (or whenever I can)

    While I’m sure that all charities can use a hand these days there is only so much a family can realistically do and still save for retirement, future child education and pay for bills that are forever increasing.

  • Reply Matt |

    I have no issue with an organization asking for money but how they go about it does at times get under my skin. The note you received does sound particularly tacky especially since it isn’t for a specific program – they’re using a holiday to try getting you to give them money. I don’t understand how you could consider celebrating valentines by giving money to a school a good way to spend valentines money. Isn’t valentines supposed to be about celebrating your love for each other?

  • Reply deirdre |

    I once received a solicitation from my high school with a penny attached because “since we haven’t received anything from you, we thought you could use a penny” or something like that.

    I was in college at the time, earning nothing.

    My mother became so enraged that she sent it back to the school’s principle demanding an apology.

  • Reply Jen |

    I do give money to my college, and the two private schools I attended for high school. I give once a year, at roughly the same time, so I just ignore all the other requests for money. Luckily, however, none of the requests are tacky. They are simply envelopes inserted in the alumni newsletters, or a letter from a classmate sent a few months before a scheduled reunion.

    The reason I give money to these schools is because not only did they give me a solid education that has helped me get to where I am today, but because I know the tuition paid by current parents/students isn’t enough to cover operating costs. Also, two of the three schools gave me significant financial aid, and I want to give back and help other students get the same advantages I did. Further, even though my college is a public university, it still needs money. The state it’s in has cut back spending on higher education starting when I was a student! The state went from providing 40% of the school’s budget to 19%, which has led to them increasing fees and tuition, especially for out-of-state students.

    (Btw, one tacky and potentially sneaky tactic is the requests from regular non-profits or political campaigns that include a request for more money when they send you the acknowledgement letter for your first donation!!!)

  • Reply Jason |

    If you have never worked at a college, I can imagine the dismay of receiving these types of solicitations. I see that several people made comments to the tone of, “You PAID for your schooling”.

    As an administrator at a college, I thought I would throw in my two cents. Donations are the life blood of any college, public or private. If you attended a state college, please realize that the tuition you actually paid is a fraction of what it costs to actually educate you there. State colleges receive much federal and local tax dollars, but that still won’t pay the bills for the college. So, donations come in. In fact, most scholarships (which allow many less fortunate people the opportunity to go to college) are privately donated. So, as you donate to a school, you really are providing people with an opportunity (and despite what you may think, about 85% of all scholarships are NEED based).

    Private colleges are the same way. Without the donations they receive, tuition would be even worse than it currently is (and it is bad with private schools).

    There is a phrase called “Pay it forward”. Please realize that the reason we all were able to go to college and pay a decent rate (after all, it could have been a lot worse) is because other people donated money to keep our costs down a little bit. I don’t see anything wrong with a college trying to find a cute way to ask you to do the same for others.

  • Reply Kristy @ Master Your Card |

    I don’t think you’re being critical at all, Tricia. I think that tactic was in poor taste and frankly, if it were me, I’d contact the school and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. I realize they’ve been hitting you up for money for a while now, but I think it’s another mark of how ridiculously over-commercialized Valentine’s day is. Why do we need a national holiday to help us remember that we need to “buy” our significant others love. As if that weren’t bad enough, now colleges are trying to capitalize on the madness by asking for a sweetheart donation. Ugh!

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    My dh and dd went to the same school. They have the same initials. For a while I was getting two of everything and had to check the honorific (Mr./Ms.) to see who it was for. But dd and her dh changed their address at the alumni office very quickly and the mailings for her have stopped. They gave all the way through school and continue to give (even though he’s a grad student at another school) and hope to continue to give when he’s a professor at their old school.

    As for romances at school… Dd and Dsil’s were recognized by the school with a picture of their wedding cake on the front page of the weekly newsletter. Of course, their cake was in the shape of the Math building (where they had met!)

    BTW: I think the fundraising letter was in poor taste but as a marketer I can see why someone might have thought it wasn’t. They should have stopped before the last paragraph and simply built up the goodwill, leaving the donation idea up to you. Perhaps a fundraising postcard, next month, while the memory of the Valentine was still fresh, but to try and go cheap and put both into one appeal is what made it tacky.

  • Reply Wise Finish |

    Sounds pretty tacky to me. Reminds me of those letters I get in the mail that appear to be an urgent telegram, but are an advert instead…

  • Reply Mary |

    I graduated from both the U. of Michigan and Michigan State U.

    U of M dropped my enrollment when I was unable to pay the final payment of my last semester. I basically had to drop out, move home, got 3 part time jobs to pay my bills and it took me 3 years to get back to college to finish my 2nd degree. In the meantime, I enrolled at our local CC and finished the 1st degree I started at U of M (for a fraction of the tuition I would have had to spend…)

    Long story short – but by the time I was able to return to college, Michigan State welcomed me with open arms. I spent 2 semesters getting my 2nd degree and they provided me with a $6000 fellowship to get my masters.

    Guess which college’s mailed requests for money go in the trash, and guess which one actually gets my donation? Not too hard to figure out! LOL

So, what do you think ?