Sorry to have missed your call on Sunday afternoon, but I hope that you’re doing well. Campus was always particularly beautiful this time of year — the last bits of winter snow hanging on as the spring sun tries to elbow its way in.
I imagine students are locked away in the libraries studying for midterms, while making time to attend the talks, symposiums, and social events that made my time there such a powerful part of my personal development. Just a year since graduating, I already look back nostalgically.
But back to that Sunday phone call. If it was anything like the last half-dozen phone calls, I can only assume you were calling for money.
I’ll first say that I understand why you’re asking in general. I took a lot from school and actually think that it’s important for alumni to give back. Moreover, I don’t need any convincing to know that my experience would have been hugely different without that alumni support.
But let’s talk strategy.
I don’t even think it’s bad manners to be called on nights and weekends for the right cause, but for a realist organization playing the long game, the best thing that you can do right now to get more money from me — a recent alumnus — is not to ask for money, but rather help me make more money.
I think you’re concerned with too narrow a window. If I keep getting these calls while I’m a very poor recent graduate, it could discourage me to the point that when I’m a relatively well-off, established professional with disposable income, I’m resentful enough that I don’t want to contribute.
What I hope you really understand is that I’m still living like a student while I pay back these loans. I have roommates, pack lunch (today, I brought in a green curry tofu that I’m really proud of), and still work at improving my career (I’m thankfully working) through informational interviews, picking up certifications, and so forth.
It would be neat if you acted like you understood this and also treated me like a student. This could include using the resources you might otherwise expend to ask me for money to instead invite me to networking lunches, interesting talks, link me up with current students and alumni in my field, and so forth.
No, I don’t think I’m entitled to this, but if you’re trying to get the most in lifetime contributions from me — not just trying to hit some contribution target in 1Q14 — I think this would be a pretty smart strategy.
Go sports team.