For most Panthers, showing pride in their alma mater doesn’t happen only once. They don’t go to just one baseball game, participate in one Panther Alumni Week, or drive around once sporting an FIU license plate. Showing Panther pride is something that alumni do regularly – without thinking twice about it.
And for many, giving back is no different.
At FIU, there are numerous causes – like student scholarships, state-of-the-art research, or work in environmental sustainability – that individuals choose to support. Many give back to the university because it inspired them, and they want to ensure that those who follow in their footsteps have the same opportunities.
“FIU will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I found my voice. It’s where I gained permission to dream,” said two-time alumna Sheila Paul Shedd ’03, MBA ’09. “As a Haitian-American, first-generation alumna, I donate because I want my fellow first-generation Panthers to dream big, too!”
What many alumni and other FIU supporters may not realize is that a gift – no matter its amount – has a multifaceted effect.
Yes, it directly affects the fund it is designated to, but since many gifts are unrestricted, they provide vital dollars that can be used where they are most needed.
It also strengthens FIU’s rankings. The percent of a university’s undergraduate alumni who give back each year is factored into the ranking from U.S. News & World Report, a highly regarded ranking of colleges and universities in the nation.
“When I speak to alumni about supporting FIU, they are often surprised to learn this,” said Brian Breittholz, chief alumni officer of the FIU Alumni Association. “By giving back, you are directly impacting the value of your own degree.”
Adding to the benefits, as Dan Allenby, principal and founder of the Annual Giving Network, notes: “High levels of alumni participation can influence major donors, corporations, and foundations when they’re considering their own investments. They want to give to institutions that others are supporting.”
Not to mention, a gift might also influence family and friends. That can happen in a number of ways. Maybe it gets mentioned over a meal, posted on social media, or someone recognizes a familiar name on a list of donors. Suddenly, gifts to support that cause begin to multiply.
And in five years or 10 years, or maybe 20, that same gift will be the reason a new graduate gives back, because he or she wants to help the next generation of Panthers.