The Colossal Power of Small Gifts

A $25 gift to BC may seem like a drop in the ocean.  But the truth is, a little can go a long way.

By Jill Caseria

Move-in memories: The 1980s photo that inspired Lauri Berkencamp ‘86 and others to make a gift to BC.

Last fall, Lauri Berkenkamp ’86 spotted an email from Boston College in her inbox with a subject line that piqued her interest. “Wanna meet in the Mods?” it asked. Curious, she opened the message. 

It was a 1980s snapshot of one of those quintessential moments etched in the minds of Eagles: move-in day. 

“That vintage photo in the email brought me back,” Lauri says, recalling her arrival on campus that first semester in her parents’ car that was stuffed with her bedding, clothes, and supplies. “Looking around at the other students moving in to Duchesne West that day, I did not feel cool!” she admits. “Dad wore these embarrassing white socks with his black loafers and I had big hair.” 

The photo also inspired her to click through and commit to making a recurring monthly contribution to BC. “Finally, after 35 years, I am a donor,” she says. “This email just cracked me up, and I couldn’t say no. Thanks for the laughs, the memories, and for getting me off the giving couch and into the BC donor community.”

Giving on a monthly basis may seem like a drop in the ocean at an institution as large as the Heights, but she also knows how important consistent giving can be to BC. “I can afford to give a small amount in perpetuity—and it feels good,” she says. “Also, BC can count on my contribution month in and month out.”

Lauri is right, agrees Peggy McCorkle, associate vice president, annual and leadership giving. “Small annual gifts pile up and make an impact as a collective. Nearly 87 percent of cash gifts to BC last year were gifts under $1,000.” What’s important is alumni participation, she adds. “Participation demonstrates alumni satisfaction with their alma mater; recurring donations contribute to fiscal stability. Additionally, participation rates are used to rank schools—and college rankings remain a significant factor in choices made by applicants. The bottom line is, any gift at any amount will have an important impact on the alumni giving rate.”

Emily (Reeves) Reynolds ’08, MBA’14, made her first gift to BC during her senior year. Today, her annual commitment qualifies her as a long-standing member of BC’s Neenan Society. “Back then, I started giving because I thought it was a nice sentiment,” she says. “But then I learned how much BC relies on the generosity of alumni and friends. Giving back is a collective effort that will make BC a better place for current Eagles and those who follow your footsteps.”

GOLD Leadership Council Co-Chair Zac Basile ’18 appreciates that he can designate his giving to support his favorite BC cause: the Club Ultimate Frisbee team. “The friends I made at BC are part of the fabric of my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I give what I can to help current and future generations of students create the same lasting bonds at the Heights.”


“We are incredibly lucky to have donors who believe in our program and support in a way that allows our team to achieve at the highest level of our sport. Without that support, we could not have won our first National Title back in 2008, let alone the 21 we’ve won since, including last year’s Womens’ National Championship.”
Greg Wilkinson
Head Sailing Coach
“A gift of any size to the Campus School at Boston College exemplifies the Jesuit mission of living as Eagles for others. The generosity we receive helps provide the quality education, services, and opportunities that our students with extensive support needs deserve. Thank you for helping us continue to realize the potential in each one of our extraordinary students.”
Tom Miller
Interim Director, 
Campus School at Boston College
“It’s no secret that new ideas and initiatives often cost money and time. Philanthropy allows us to move through these a little bit more seamlessly. Without the generosity of our donors, we wouldn’t get  some of those initiatives off the ground.”
Dr. Shawna Cooper Whitehead
Vice President for Student Affairs

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