Philanthropy is Not About Notches on a Belt

by Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
Harrisburg, PA

A few months ago, I was talking with a colleague who works for another organization about how different colleges and universities were serving their stakeholders in the midst of the coronavirus global pandemic. Some of the organizations had been bragging about the amount of money they were raising from their donors. Other colleges and universities had been proudly recounting how they were helping their students. Guess which camp HACC and the HACC Foundation fit in? You guessed it! The latter.

In March, HACC and HACC Foundation officials agreed to refrain from soliciting money from our donors – some of whom were significantly and negatively impacted by the pandemic. It was an easy decision to make, since we care about our donors and see them as people and not as banks. Instead, we focused on (1) using our generous donors’ previous charitable contributions to help our students and (2) communicating regularly with our donors. We called our donors, emailed them, mailed them letters and met with them via Zoom.

When it came to serving our students – as we say in the South – the HACC Foundation “showed up and showed out.”


  • Awarded $145,000 to purchase technology for students to receive instruction and services remotely
  • Were authorized by PNC Bank to reallocate their $5,000 sponsorship contribution to purchase 50 $100 gift cards for students to use for necessities
  • Provided $4,815 in emergency assistance funds for 15 Massage Therapy Program students to take their licensing examinations after completing the program
  • Created the Fund for Excellence for CAREto minimize student hardships so that they can focus on their studies
  • Offered 40 $1,000 tuition giveaways to students who enroll for summer
  • Received gifts from two generous employees who contributed their federal stimulus checks
  • Received $100,000 from HACC’s Student Government Association (SGA) in support of the CARE (Consultation, Advocacy, Referrals and Empowerment) Centers
  • Provided more than $70,000 to eliminate the past due balances of more than 515 students
  • Offered 40 $2,000 tuition giveaways to students who enroll for the fall semester
  • Awarded HOPE Grants to 199 students who did not qualify for the federal CARES Act funds
  • Announced that HACC is offering five full-ride scholarships to future students who are frontline workers or currently unemployed as a result of the pandemic

Philanthropy is not about notches on a belt. What is the point of raising money if you are not using it to change your stakeholders’ lives?

Of the more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States that our donors could support, they choose to give to the HACC Foundation. We honor their generosity by spending their philanthropic investments wisely and updating them on the impact of their gifts.

Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR, is vice president of college advancement at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and executive director of the HACC Foundation. 


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