Economics of Giving

For the eighth year in a row, the University of Mary Washington’s Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector class is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation. But this year, juniors Chelsea LeHew and Taylor Knight are taking it one step further.

Junior Taylor Knight has chosen to make volunteerism a large part of her life

LeHew and Knight, among 26 students in the class, are brainstorming ways to raise even more money, collect more donations and involve community members.

UMW is one of 17 colleges and universities to receive a Doris Buffett grant this semester. Buffett’s program promotes the study of philanthropy by donating funds to students to distribute to local nonprofit organizations.

In September, LeHew and Knight, both economics majors, held a bake sale in front of Read All Over Bookstore in historic downtown Fredericksburg. They sold baked goods, some of which were donated by a local home-based bakery, Fat Girl Cakes.

“We’re really lucky to have that support from the community, too. Our goal is to try to involve Fredericksburg as well as the UMW campus,” LeHew said.

The bake sale alone yielded a $252 profit, a good start to reaching their goal of $1,000. LeHew was happy that the sale had leftovers, because they donated them to Fredericksburg’s Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter.

Since 2005, UMW’s philanthropy class has distributed $70,000 to 15 organizations. LeHew and Knight want to expand on past efforts.

Students in the Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector class held a bake sale in downtown Fredericksburg

“We’re hoping to raise enough to be able to add another recipient to our list of nonprofits we choose for the grant,” Knight said.

The two students will hand out vouchers to Fredericksburg-area restaurants that will donate a percentage of those sales to the class. They plan to have another bake sale, this time on campus, and possibly even a carwash.

Knight and LeHew are also in the midst of organizing a supply and food drive. They will leave bags, boxes and letters of explanation on local doorsteps as a way to collect necessities such as toothbrushes, clothes, blankets, canned food items and gift cards. They will donate the items to the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter and the Empower House, a women’s shelter.

The two girls decided to take the philanthropy class because of their passion for helping others. LeHew makes bracelets to benefit the National Eating Disorder Association. Knight spent a week in New York during high school, where she was inspired by UNICEF to make volunteerism a large part of her life.

Professor of Economics Robert Rycroft, teacher of the philanthropy class and facilitator of the grant, is happy to get his students out of the classroom and involve them in the community.

“The energy level and initiative is extraordinary in this class,” he said.

This year, the class came up with a mission statement focused on promoting education and recreational programs, health services and career skill development. At the end of the semester and after reviewing all the applications, the class will decide on the recipients of the grant.

Knight, who plans to pursue a career in human rights law, reflected on her appreciation of the time, money and efforts of philanthropist Doris Buffett.

“I looked at the generous gift Ms. Buffett is giving us, and thought, ‘What could I do more?’” Knight said.

– by Charlotte Rodina ’13

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.

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