Not long after our family celebrated our daughter going away to college did we begin preparing for our son to select his university. A high school junior, he is visiting campuses — parents in tow — to find his match.

While I’m there as a parent, my fundraiser hat never truly comes off (which could probably be considered a hazard of a career in higher education).

And this part of me – the part that believes deeply in the power of generosity – was disappointed at the missed opportunities. At the five different institutions we visited thus far, public and private, not a single one mentioned philanthropy or a parents fund during the admissions office overview or during the campus tour. And an online review of other institutions fared only marginally better.

It’s easy to imagine how those running these programs don’t see how philanthropy fits in. Admissions requirements, student experience, academic programs – these make sense for prospective families. But donating?

However during these campus visits, we discussed study abroad opportunities, scholarships, campus improvements, new majors, and more. And at most campuses, every single one of these programs is fueled by generosity.

Those of us who make our profession in advancement do so because we know that the act of giving makes the extraordinary possible. Generosity gets students to college; exposes them to a broader world; creates student experiences and relationships they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives; and facilitates deep investigation of our world through research and teaching.

Our role is to bring our pride in this knowledge to every audience we have, and that includes prospective parents and students. Philanthropy is woven into our institution’s being, and we should be honored to carry that message forward and educate at every opportunity.

If you haven’t explored how your institution shares this message with prospective families, now may be the time.

To explore tools to build an all-campus approach to parent giving, contact KDD Philanthropy today.

Image credit: janniswerner via iStock

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