You’ve read about some of the amazing students at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, but what kind of classes can you take at the school? I visited and talked to four different undergraduate classes, learning about the fascinating and relevant topics they discuss every day and the diverse projects they work on.
1. Giving and Volunteering in America – Jamie Goodwin, instructor
In this course, first-year, first-semester students learn about giving and volunteering in America. One day last September soon after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the surrounding areas, the students posted in an online discussion forum. As a result of that discussion, student Hannah Glaser realized that she and her classmates could use what they were learning for hurricane relief.
Soon, the students were brainstorming ways to help. In two short weeks, they had come up with their plan, advertised what they were collecting (basic supplies needed for immediate relief), and decided where to donate those supplies. Upon reaching their completion date, students received hundreds of pounds of needed supplies.
“It gave us a way to understand the practical, hands-on side of philanthropy,” Glaser said.
This class is offered at multiple times in the fall of 2018.
2. Psychology of Giving – Sara Konrath, Ph.D., assistant professor of philanthropic studies
Fundraising may be considered an art, but Konrath is a social psychologist with the school who looks at the science behind philanthropy. In this undergraduate course, students learn about the science behind charitable giving and philanthropy. As part of the class, they went to the zoo to observe if primates exhibit prosocial (helping) behaviors. Observing various species of primates, students collected data, compared their findings using inter-coder reliability, and then wrote a response paper detailing their findings.
Sophomore Macy Jackson: “We found very similar characteristics between humans and monkeys. For instance, the baby stood near her mother for comfort and help but would also go off and play on her own, which is what any human child would do.”
Senior Victoria McMillian: “The experience was eye-opening.”
3. Individual Donor Motivation and Engagement – Genevieve Shaker, Ph.D., associate professor of philanthropic studies
A new undergraduate course introduced this past fall, this class focuses on how students can engage with individual donors. As part of their learning throughout the semester, the students initiated their own Giving Tuesday campaigns and raised money for organizations they chose. As a final project, they presented those campaigns on Giving Tuesday. These campaigns consisted of students creating a case statement, choosing a fundraising goal, contacting prospective donors, establishing a crowdfunding site, and developing plans around social media sites. During their presentation, they also explained the challenges they faced and stated their plan going forward for the rest of the day.
All told, the students raised (or helped raise through other affiliations) $21,239 for the Alzheimer’s Association, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Coburn Place Safe Haven, FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic, the Indiana Recycling Coalition, and the National Mill Dog Rescue.
“The students left a nice legacy of the semester, both for them in the experiences they can write on their résumés, but most of all, for the organizations they supported,” Shaker said.
Shaker will teach this course again in the fall of 2018.
4. Celebrity Philanthropy – Genevieve Shaker, Ph.D.
This class, also taught by Shaker, focuses on celebrities, their motivations behind giving, and what roles they can play. The course has recently been translated into an online format, so students can take the class anywhere.
This year, Shaker interviewed individuals that ranged from retired Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings, to founder and CEO of charity: water, Scott Harrison. During his visit to Indianapolis for the Thomas H. Lake Lecture, Harrison shared insights about working with celebrities.
He spoke about how the organization has encouraged people to donate their birthdays, whether that’s a celebrity’s birthday or “every day person’s” day. Harrison shared how celebrities such as Kristen Bell and Will and Jada Smith have traced the donations to countries to see how their birthday donations have made a difference.
However, Harrison and Shaker both pointed out that it’s also about everyday people, and how each person is a celebrity in his or her own network.
“We’re excited about the celebrities, but more excited about how 9-year-olds raise money through a lemonade stand, or stories along those lines. Look at our community of amazing supporters and how generous they are. Those are the real heroes and celebrities,” Harrison said.
You can learn about celebrity philanthropy and your own impact. This course will be offered again in the spring of 2019.
What are your thoughts on these classes? What else is important for students learning about philanthropy to know?
Abby Rolland is the blog content coordinator for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.