Guest Opinion: Appreciating philanthropy


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As little girls, my sister and I donated our earnings from our lemonade stands to causes we were passionate about. From a very young age, my family instilled in me the importance of giving back, helping to build a foundation for me to appreciate philanthropy that much more.

Before I enrolled at Iowa, I knew philanthropy played a huge role at the institution, as it does at other institutes of higher education. Then I joined the UI Foundation’s Student Philanthropy Group, a group of likeminded students who help raise awareness about philanthropy (“Phil”) all over campus — as well as represent the student body in interactions with some of the UI’s most generous donors. I also took part in the foundation’s development internship last summer, learning even more about the art and science that brings major gifts to our school.

I have had the unique opportunity to meet with donors and learn why they give — why they choose the University of Iowa as their cause to support among so many worthy causes. While each donor’s motivation for giving is a little different, each person believes that her or his giving to the UI will change the world for the better. And it does.

Private support from donors affects all students on campus, whether they know it or not.

Philanthropy helps give our campus the communal and diverse feeling that makes it feel like home. Their gifts provide resources that bolster us as we make plans for the future and gain the knowledge and understanding we need to build successful lives and careers. They help provide scholarships for students who may not otherwise have been able to afford college, build beautiful facilities for us to learn in (such as the Adler Building, where I spend a lot of time as a journalism and mass communication major), and shape the university into a top academic institution. Not only that, but donations from alumni and friends played a major part in giving us Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where I love to cheer on the Hawkeye basketball and wrestling teams.

My interest in philanthropy continues to grow as I see how it enhances the lives of students every day. After I graduate this spring, I look forward to learning even more in the next year. I am honored to have been awarded the Williams Development Fellowship at the UI Foundation, made possible by gifts from the late Robert F. Williams of Marshalltown, Iowa. This position will enable me to spend a year “test driving” a career in philanthropy through an in-depth, hands-on work experience at the foundation.

I can’t think of a more rewarding career, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

Kate McKenzie
Class of 2015
UI Foundation Williams Development Fellow for 2015-2016

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