During this season of graduation ceremonies, commencement speeches, and open houses – it’s hard not to think back at my own experience graduating from Taylor University back in 1998.

One of the more lasting memories from this time of my life involved a unique challenge given to my graduating class.

Richard Seaman was a distinguished business professor at Taylor who died suddenly in 1998. His family came up with an idea to help inspire graduates to give back to Taylor University while also honoring his legacy at the school.

The family’s goal was to help Taylor alumni develop a habit of giving back to the University while also understanding the reality of recent graduates not having a lot of disposable income immediately after college. So they decided to give every graduate that year a total of $3.00 — which consisted of one 1-dollar bill, and one 2-dollar bill.

The idea was for each of us as graduates, to give the $1.00 bill back to the University after our first year in “the real world”. The second year we were to give back the $2.00 bill. The following year, we were to give $4.00 out of our own pocket. The next year, $8.00. And so on. With the ideal goal of doubling our gift back to Taylor each year for as long as possible.

“The Seaman Challenge”, as it became known, is now a tradition at Taylor University and helps fund a scholarship for incoming freshmen. You can read more about this ongoing generosity here.

While I have not kept up with the ideal scenario of doubling my gift each year, it did impress upon me the importance of annual, repeat giving to causes that are important to me.

At your nonprofit, how do you create a habit of philanthropy to your cause? Do you understand the importance of donor retention while also not ignoring the small donations that are helping to fund your organization?

I’d love to hear other ideas that have helped inspire creative generosity — please post any of your ideas or feedback in the comments section below.

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