On Giving Tuesday, Think Global, Give Local, For Higher Education

education icon with silhouette of teach in front of class, holding a baton to a board.

by John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

On Giving Tuesday, generous donors will be seeking good institutions for their dollars. And higher education will get its share. But not all donations will be spread around colleges equally. In fact, a few colleges will receive a disproportionate share of all of this generosity. You don’t have to seek out an Ivy League school to target. Your colleges and universities in your own backyard could use the money, and would probably be more grateful for your help.

Back in 2020, I wrote that “According to MarketWatch, 20 elite universities serve less than 2% of all students yet rake in about a third of the donations.” It’s not that those dollars will be wasted, but they are likely to be, as the British say, “coals to Newcastle.”

America has more than just a handful of good schools. In fact, we’re one of the world leaders in higher education. For a magazine article, I found that if the state of Georgia was an independent country, they would be on par with an Italy based on world rankings of colleges and universities. There’s a lot of local talent here in the Peach State to target. And those nearby are starting to recognize it.

Earlier this year, Home Depot donated $65,000 to help programs for Kennesaw State University’s Academy of Inclusive Learning and Social Growth. Graduates of KSU have also been generous with their alma mater, as is the case with the Pike family that donated scholarships for business and nursing, and hopes to help with a donor project for a new sports stadium for Kennesaw State. And there’s a culture of philanthropy involving several major donors like Michael Coles, Norman Radow and Mike Leven, the latter of whom grew up in Boston, not Atlanta, showing that generosity doesn’t always need to observe state boundaries.

Speaking of sports, athletics have helped raise KSU’s profile, enticing donors to help the school’s plucky sports teams compete with bigger named programs, as evidenced by the success of the school’s basketball team. Now in Conference USA, the attention can make it easier for the university to reach donors.

Kennesaw State University is hardly the only college in Cobb County, as you can see the other institutions of higher education here. For example, Georgia Highlands College is finishing their sports complex, the result of generous donations. You can find niches of need for any of them. If you have a plan for how to help, contact any of these seven colleges and universities, and see how your donation dollars can fit in.

Is the investment worth it? Several years ago, KSU hosted the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. My college (LaGrange College) drove up a large contingent of researchers who presented to panels and provided poster presentations on nearly every topic, a valuable experience not just for KSU, but other schools and local in attendance.

And for the seven Cobb County colleges and universities, there are plenty of Giving Tuesday strategies to fundraise to help offset the losses in funding for higher education from states. Since the pandemic, a majority of states have cut funding for colleges with universities, often by double-digit percentages. The generosity of donors can help stem these losses, which hamper not only education, but the economy, given than nearly two-thirds of future jobs will require a college degree, and only 37 percent of Americans currently have a degree from a college or university.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own, and do not speak for LaGrange College faculty, students, staff or administration. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.