Course teaches power of giving

top-story-warnerCall it a paraphrase of the old fishing adage. Ask a student to give to a cause, and he or she may do so. Teach a student why philanthropy matters, and the lesson may just last a lifetime.

Especially when the teachers are living it.

That’s the idea behind UW-Green Bay’s Strategic Philanthropy course, which was piloted in fall 2012 and is being offered for the second time during spring 2014. Associate Prof. Lora Warner, Public and Environmental Affairs, designed the course to help students experience the intricacies of the philanthropic giving process firsthand, and to give them a real-life chance to apply their knowledge.

That chance, of course, would require outside assistance. And a trio of women who are intimately familiar with the power and process of giving stepped up.

Gail McNutt, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes; Nancy Armbrust, retired Schreiber Foods VP; and Lise Lotte Gammeltoft, retired local attorney, say they’re thrilled to help so the class may give to others. (Posing in the photo above are, from left, Warner, Gammeltoft, McNutt and Armbrust.)

Beyond the satisfaction of setting the grant exercise in motion, the three women hope the course makes a long-term difference for some future philanthropists — and the communities in which they’ll live.

“I think it’s huge,” McNutt said. “I think this is truly getting to the root of the issue. And it might feel like it was only 13 kids or 18 kids, however many were in that class, but when you truly think about the multiplier effect of those 18 kids — and if this class happens again and again and again — I am anxious to see the impact it’s going to have.”

The course showed students they don’t have to be wealthy, or of a certain age, to give, Gammeltoft said. It also taught them to plan, and truly think strategically about how their dollars would be spent.

“Understanding that it doesn’t have to be $5 million — that was one of the key things that was talked about,” Gammeltoft said. “It was a very hands-on class — those students had to work, they had to go out in the community. They solicited proposals and learned from that.”

The students base their awards on a semester of research, due diligence and attention to the mechanics and philosophy of philanthropy and grant-making.

The fall 2012 class ultimately chose to support a community garden project at Green Bay West High School, an initiative designed to address the food desert issue on the city’s near-west side. The students of the spring 2014 class are scheduled to make this year’s announcement of the $10,000 grant recipient at the Strategic Philanthropy Awards Reception at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8, in the Union’s Christie Theatre.

Money for the grants came from an anonymous donor last year, and from Doris Buffet’s Learning by Giving Foundation this year. It was because of the three women’s support, time and talent that the students were able to participate in the course, Warner said.

And hopefully, take what they’ve learned and pay it forward.

“I realized how talented these folks are — I mean, their ability with technology, and to garner support in different ways than we have,” Armbrust said. “It’s fun for me to see this, and it’s exciting to see that these are people that will be even better prepared than any of the rest of us were to take these types of roles in the community.”