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Alumnus donates money to students with one stipulation: They must give it away

February 20, 2013 | Ian Richardson

This fall, Evangel business students received a taste of what it takes to secure donations in a nonprofit organization – with a twist. Instead of the ones asking for the donations, they were the ones giving them.

Philanthropy: Theory and Practice is a brand-new business course added as part of Evangel’s recently added Nonprofit Business and Social Enterprise program. Bernie Dana, Business Department chairman, says the course is designed to explore why people give and provide various approaches to encourage people to give toward a certain cause.

During the semester, each student in the class received $100 to donate to one or more nonprofit organizations of his or her choosing. Students were required to research their organizations beforehand and write a report about their experience afterward. The money was donated by an alumnus who believes that thoughtful fundraisers should know what it means to be a thoughtful donor.

Eveline Lewis

Eveline Lewis

“Because we focus on how to get more revenue streams, we have to get into the mind of the givers,” says Eveline Lewis, instructor of the course.

The fall was Lewis’ first semester teaching at Evangel. Originally from Indonesia, Lewis had spent the past 17 years serving overseas with the Assemblies of God World Missions and working extensively with nonprofit organizations as a field worker in a third-world country, teaching business courses, managing an orphanage and working with ministries to street children.

Lewis says she is amazed at how her hiring, the donation and the new major all converged at the same time.

“I believe God put everything together.  Evangel was starting something that I had a passion for, and then there’s another person who wanted to donate the money to help the students learn,” she says.

Cheryl Craighton, a  junior Nonprofit Business and Social Enterprise major, says she learned a lot about nonprofit businesses through this course. She says a class like this is needed in many schools because of the well-rounded view it gives of the organization.

“Many people are either involved strictly in the volunteering and the fundraising of a nonprofit, and they may not be aware of the importance of also having a background in business or management to lead a program,” she says. “This course helped me gain a comprehensive view of people who work for nonprofits and all the different, fundamental pieces that work together to run a nonprofit corporation.”

Craighton says she spent quite a bit of time deciding on her organization, but she ended up choosing two: the A21 Campaign, which fights against human trafficking, and a project to help build a school in El Salvador.

“Even though it was not my money, it taught me how to cheerfully give and know that I am helping make an impact,” she says. “It showed us what it is like to be a giver, when we will more than likely end up in a career that will be consistently asking for donations.”

Lewis says that some of the charities were impressed by the students’ desire to become involved and that many of the charities wrote thank-you letters.

“The nicest thing about it for me as a teacher is how much they have learned about nonprofit organizations and the different purposes of nonprofits,” says Lewis. “Our students chose multiple organizations.  This new course expanded their thinking about nonprofit not only here in Springfield, but also globally. I think they came out with more understanding on how the nonprofit actually works instead of just an organization that takes money.”

Lewis says this course will continue to be offered during the fall in future years.

— Ian Richardson, junior English major from Afton, Iowa

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