Last week marked the beginning of Stanford’s first Philanthropy Week. Beginning Monday, April 19, students received e-mails from classmates in their respective years, describing a new tradition at Stanford.
Philanthropy Week focused on donations to The Stanford Fund (TSF), which helps finance scholarships, academic programs and student groups on campus. Each day was defined by a theme, varying from scholarships to athletic programming. The week culminated with students filming thank-you responses in White Plaza at the spring Activities Fair.
To mark the debut of Philanthropy Week, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education John Bravman, in a video message, described the life-changing bond he formed with a faculty member while at Stanford. He said in his video message that “without our donors and what they’ve done on a regular basis,” students would not be able to avail themselves of “freshman seminars, sophomore seminars, overseas campuses, undergraduate research programs, you name it.”
“We would not be doing it,” Bravman said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Despite Philanthropy Week’s desire to highlight the generosity of donors, however, numerous students were unaware of its existence or its purpose.
“I only heard about it through what I must admit were rather non-descriptive e-mails, which I just passed over,” said Jason Bade ’13.
The e-mails sent throughout the week also featured video clips of students describing the impact of TSF on their undergraduate experience.
Sophomore Class President Adrian Castillo ’12 said a goal of the week was to help raise awareness of how dependent students are on funding. He added that he expects Philanthropy Week to be an annual tradition because the class presidents have a strong relationship with TSF and are seeking to promote awareness of the organization.
In his video, Kyle Tsai ’11 said, “I have not made too many life decisions, but my coming to Stanford has definitely been one of them…the scholarship fund is definitely the reason why I can make that decision, so I am forever grateful.”
Tristan Kruth ’12, a member of Robber Barons, said in his video that TSF has supported the comedy group’s ability to write, act and produce. It has enabled the Robber Barons to travel to various areas of the country, as well.
When groups of students were asked about their thoughts on Philanthropy Week, the most common response was: “Is that what those e-mails were about?”
Linden Moot ’12 said that targeting students other than members of the senior class “seemed pointless.”
“Becoming an alum is way too far away to think about,” he said.
“After the first [e-mail], I didn’t even read them, I just deleted them,” Moot added. “I thought I already knew everything they were talking about.”
Moot further said that he was eventually encouraged to become a donor through his work at the Calling Center. He said that while Bravman’s message was inspiring, the student e-mails were ineffective.
“If they had all been sent by Bravman, I would have read them all,” he said, “but when it comes from our class officers, I assume that it’s fake and unnecessary.”
Castillo, by contrast, hopes that the potential influence of Philanthropy Week will extend throughout the year. He added that many parts of Philanthropy Week “were very successful” and expressed hope that the weeklong events will demonstrate “how important funding is to our Stanford experience.”
According to the TSF website, approximately 30,000 donors contributed $18 million to the University last year.
Kate Abbott contributed to this report.