The passenger next to me on a recent flight asked how I could work in fundraising. It's nice to meet people, she said, but it's too uncomfortable asking people for money. It's hard to convince people to do something they don't want to do.
If I worked somewhere else, I might feel the same way, but I work at Saint John's.
I have only to think about Ian from Waconia, Minnesota, nephew of several Saint John's alumni, who transferred here after his first year because he sensed a strong, supportive community. Ian was right, and he is now on his way to medical school.
Or Sam, who as a high-school football stand-out in Saint Paul, was encouraged by his history teacher (a Saint John's alumnus) to consider Saint John's, and is now an economics major and about to be the first in his family to earn a college degree.
Paul from Savage, Minnesota, whose mother sang in the the CSB/SJU Chamber Choir some 30 years ago, is now doing the same himself. He will graduate and go on to become a leader in his school, perhaps someday a principal.
My seat mate might have been shocked to learn that not only are our donors comfortable giving, they actually love to do it!
Our donors know that young men who come to Saint John's are transformed by hospitality and community, athletics and arts, intellectual rigor and down-to-earth friendship. They choose to invest in students' lives by sending them to this place. Most of these young men they have never met, and never will meet. That they invest anyway inspires me every day.
I am honored that I get to work at Saint John's, where there are thousands of donors to the Student Fund. Together they contribute $3 million annually to provide academic and need-based scholarship aid for Johnnies from all over the world.
As the calendar year comes to a close, and a fresh Christmas snow blankets the slumbering Collegeville campus, donors are quietly making gifts small and large to their favorite charities and causes. I give thanks for my career as a fund raiser at Saint John's. For me it is not about convincing people to give. Rather, it is a privilege to help donors make the life-changing investments they choose to make in our students. I am humbled to get to help these donors make dreams come true.
As we left the plane I handed my fellow passenger my card and invited her to campus. I don't know if she'll ever visit, but I am sure if she does, she'll see exactly what I mean.
Happy New Year!