A Million Hours

Posted on 05/21/2017

If you’re like so many other annual giving or advancement professionals, you may feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that’s expected of you. And your prospects and volunteers more than likely feel the same way. Living in a “time famine” is what makes it particularly special (and rare) when someone is willing to give a significant amount of his or her time to help your organization.

When Boston University launched its first public capital fundraising campaign, it set out not only to raise a lot of money but also to increase support from all of its constituencies—including students. Knowing that most students would not be in a position to make significant monetary gifts to the campaign, the university found a way for students to contribute without having to open their wallets.

Soon after the campaign launched, BU students collectively made a pledge to complete one million hours of community service before the campaign ended. To put this into perspective, the million-hour goal is equivalent to one person volunteering nonstop for over 100 years. The idea was inspired by a commitment from the then-student union president who, prior to the launch of the campaign, pledged one hour of community service for each undergraduate student.

As the campaign got underway, students were able to participate through a variety of volunteer programs, including the student-run Community Service Center, the First Year Student Outreach Project, Alternative Spring Break, and any service performed in conjunction with Greek life, religious groups, clubs or student organizations. The administration even developed a mobile app that allowed students to log their service hours in real time and track overall progress toward the goal.

Emphasizing the value of time is particularly important for students who are still in the process of developing talent, and have likely not yet amassed much in terms of treasure. What’s more, finding ways to harvest their time in productive and meaningful ways not only can offset some of your own time and resource limitations, but also can plant a seed that yields other forms of continued support down the line.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Engaging Student Volunteers in Fundraising.