April is "ceremony season" at IUPUI. Throughout the month, we celebrate students, staff, and faculty who have excelled in their work. This year, some events have taken on a special quality as IUPUI celebrates its 40th anniversary.
One of these is the annual Spirit of Philanthropy luncheon. For more than 20 of our 40 years, this event has celebrated the incomparable generosity from our community that has helped the campus grow and prosper. It is our yearly opportunity to recognize the civic spirit of those who helped IUPUI become a great urban campus.
This year's Spirit of Philanthropy celebration will be unique. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the campus and the 20th anniversary of the Spirit of Philanthropy event, we asked the campus to identify the most transformational donor to each school/unit over the course of its history. On April 22, we will announce and celebrate those transformational donors and volunteers at the awards luncheon.
In anticipation of this special day, I have had occasion to reflect on the extraordinary relationship IUPUI has with the larger community of which we're a part.
Jim Joseph, former President of the Council on Foundations, wrote:
"The charitable impulse is triggered whenever people see themselves as part
of a community, whether it be the family, the neighborhood, or the nation.
As sense of community expands, so does the scope of philanthropy."
I have come to believe that donors see their gifts to IUPUI as a means of expanding their sense of community. Because of IUPUI's own commitment to civic engagement, gifts to IUPUI reverberate, so that when we are enabled to broaden our impact, donors simultaneously broaden the scope of their philanthropy.
Elizabeth Lynn, director of the Project on Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University, and Susan Wisely, former Director of Evaluation for Lilly Endowment, wrote an essay entitled "Four Traditions of Philanthropy." Within each tradition, the meaning and purpose of philanthropy to the giver is defined differently.
The first tradition is philanthropy as relief. It operates on the principle of compassion and seeks to alleviate human suffering. It is analogous to the proverb: "Give a person a fish, feed her for a day."
The second tradition is philanthropy as improvement. It operates on the principle of progress and seeks to maximize individual human potential. It is analogous to the saying, "Teach a person to fish, feed her for a lifetime." Those who give to scholarship programs are motivated in part by this principle.
The third tradition is philanthropy as social reform. It operates on the principle of justice and seeks to solve social problems. It is like saying, "In order to fish, people need equal access to the pond, unpolluted waters, and resources with which to buy fishing poles."
The emerging fourth tradition that Lynn and Wisely identify is called the philanthropy of civic engagement. It aims to establish relationships among citizens so that they can better understand common concerns. It is analogous to saying, "Has anyone ever asked this person if she likes fish?"
Donors to IUPUI are philanthropists of civic engagement. They have the impulse to give to IUPUI because engaged learning, translating research into practice, and commitment to public purposes are fundamental to IUPUI's institutional character. They know that IUPUI's combination of teaching, research, and civic engagement across disciplines is a powerful way of establishing relationships that increase our understanding of one another and issues of common concern.
Our commitment to engaged learning, engaged research, and civic engagement and the donors and volunteers who have directed their philanthropy to IUPUI are a potent combination that has enabled us to steadily grow in impact and broaden the scope of community.
I look forward to the 20th annual Spirit of Philanthropy Celebration and the opportunity to recognize the historic and very special relationship between IUPUI and its transformational donors.
Charles R. Bantz