Mark Isaac, vice president for advancement and university relations
Fresno Pacific University has benefited from the generosity of individuals, churches and companies for decades, but just recently has the university focused on developing a culture of generosity. What is a culture of generosity? It is the common perspective or attitude an organization has about charitable giving or fundraising. If this culture is not defined well, organizations can come to view fundraising with negative connotations. At Fresno Pacific we understand giving to be an expression of the very nature of God himself. God loves a cheerful giver because he is one! Inviting someone to give to the mission and people of FPU is offering them an opportunity to experience a joyful partnership with God.
For many years, our alumni were not invited to give financially to the university until they were two years past their graduation. One perspective expressed at the time was that since these students had just paid a lot of money for their education they might resent being asked for more so soon after leaving. While that perception may be accurate for some graduates, we are no longer choosing to act on it. Today we are educating our alumni while they’re still students about the vital role donors have in making their education possible, and inviting them to a partnership role in giving before they graduate.
Part of that education is math. Tuition and fees account for about 86 percent of the cost of an FPU education, whether paid by a student, their parent(s), from scholarships and financial aid or through loans. The remaining costs and most buildings on the campus are provided for by other revenue, including a significant amount of charitable contributions from individuals, churches and companies. FPU alumni make up more than 10 percent of all donors to the university. Their understanding of and participation in a culture of generosity matters tremendously to the students who still have hopes to attend FPU for a Christian education.
But there is more to a culture of generosity than the numbers. As our graduates embrace generosity, we believe they will become most effective as true Christian leaders in the world. The first goal of the university’s strategic plan states that “Wherever FPU graduates are present…they will be recognized for consistently demonstrating wise and effective ethical leadership through generous and compassionate service and professional excellence that embodies the kingdom of Christ on earth… .”
So the Medallion Donor program was started, recognizing FPU graduates at their commencement for making their first charitable gift to the university before graduating. Almost 20 percent of each of the last three graduating classes received a medallion zipper-pull to wear at their commencement ceremony in recognition of their role as donors to Fresno Pacific. That represents almost 250 graduating donors! And though the gifts are small on average, the impact is large. It is a demonstration that a culture of generosity is budding at Fresno Pacific, increasing the spiritual vitality of our alumni and growing the kingdom of God.