Alumni take advantage of philanthropic employers’ matching gifts programs
Motivations for making charitable gifts are as varied as those making them and oftentimes are very personal in nature. In the case of making a gift to ones alma mater — such as the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering — making a gift can preserve a connection to formative events and fond memories in a college student’s life and support similar experiences for others. It also can serve to honor a family or faculty member, or a significant program.
Donors are often surprised to learn that many companies with philanthropic inclinations offer matching gift programs, supporting employees’ generosity by matching their charitable gifts one-to-one, while some even match workforce personnel gifts at even higher rates.
In some cases, corporations match gifts made by employees’ families and will continue to match the employee’s charitable giving even after retirement. Such is the case with ExxonMobile.
Robert Healy, BS ChE ’64 and PhD ChE ’68, spent his entire career with ExxonMobile — four years working in refining before earning his doctorate, 10 years in exploration and production research, and 22 years in research management. For more than 20 years, ExxonMobile has been matching gifts to MU by both him and his wife Marcia Wehrle Healy, BS HES ’68, three-to-one, even after he retired in 2000.
“In fact, if I die, my wife still gets a match,” Healy said of ExxonMobile’s generous matching program.
The Healys met when they were both students at Mizzou and have been back to Columbia at least once each year since. Not only do they feel the campus is much more attractive than when they attended, but they also believe the atmosphere on campus is significantly better with an administration that is more visible and open.
“And the students are top notch,” Healy said. “We’re always impressed by them.”
Healy said a coworker who was taking advantage of ExxonMobile’s matching benefit sparked his giving. “Institutions that have helped you out — you need to give back to them when you can,” he said.
Since then, the couple has provided funding for two named spaces in the College of Engineering: the Healy Student Lounge and the Truman Storvick Undergraduate Laboratory, in honor of an MU chemical engineering professor.
“Truman Storvick was my PhD research advisor and probably the most important faculty member in my college career,” said Healy
The Healys also have endowed the Robert and Marcia Healy Scholarship in Chemical Engineering. Their gifts also support an endowed lectureship, a named scholarship and building projects in MU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences, Marcia’s home college.
“Something hits you and motivates you to do it, to give back,” Robert said.
“Younger graduates who work for matching companies could give $100 each year, and that would become a $200 gift. If they would just get in the habit of doing it as they go through their careers, they would be used to it,” he added. “Once you get involved, it becomes easier. It’s just taking the first step.”
Luke Manier, BS MAE ’01, is an example of a young alumnus who has made the decision to give back to Mizzou choosing, as an MU College of Engineering’s Recent Alumni Development (RAD) board member, to donate to the new organization’s scholarship fund (see accompanying story here).
“I’ve got pride in the university where I went to school. I was well prepared for my career,” said Manier, who works for Rockwell Automation in Maryland Heights, Mo.
Manier is a solutions sales manager for Rockwell, which specializes in industrial automation.
“I like working on the business side of a technical field. It’s problem solving with a business/financial context,” Manier said.
As the chair of RAD’s Fundraising and Corporate Relations Committee, Manier initiated a drive for the group to start an endowed scholarship. Rockwell matched the gift he made in support of the young alumni board’s effort.
“I’m proud that my company supports me in this way,” he said.
Manier met his wife, Brittney (Mahr) Manier, BS HES ’01, when they were students at MU.
“Some of our fondest memories are football games, the atmosphere of campus on game days and the friends we made,” Manier said.
“When you are part of a large group, even a small gift, coupled with others in a community, has strength,” Manier said of the scholarship fund gift.
“We don’t look at this as a one-time gift,” he added. “I think it’s something we’ll continue to do.”
Joe Carlson, BS CiE ’09, is another example of a young alumnus who took the first step referenced by Healy. What makes Carlson’s story even more compelling is the fact that the company he works for, Massman Construction, doesn’t have a formal matching program. Yet, Carlson convinced Massman vice-president Mark Schnoebelen, BS CiE ’78, to match his gift to the RAD Scholarship Fund.
“It’s just something my parents have always taught me,” Carlson said. “You should give to institutions who have helped you along the way.”
When Carlson graduated, he moved to New Orleans to work on storm surge protection walls for Massman. The company has 85 employees, and depending on the work, might have 200 to 300 people in the field.
After eight months, Carlson returned to St. Louis and currently is working on the company’s new Interstate 70 bridge over the Mississippi.
“I’m part of the management team. I do field activities like ordering materials and designing small access systems,” Carlson said. “We specialize in marine-based construction.”
When he got ready to make his gift to the RAD scholarship fund, Carlson sent a letter to Schnoebelen asking if the company would match it.
“He was pretty enthusiastic about it,” Carlson said. “The company matched it almost three-to-one.”
Schnoebelen said Massman has had a great deal of success recruiting from Mizzou Engineering. “Joe is a great example. He was well prepared and well rounded. He’s a natural leader and has a lot of talent.
“I got a great education at MU and enjoyed the time I was there. I have four kids, and three are at Mizzou,” Schnoebelen added.
Carlson said his MU experience and family traditions influenced his decision to make a gift.
“I spent four years of my life there — some of the best times I’ve had. Both of my parents went to Mizzou. I’m a product of Mizzou and I want to give back,” he said.
Craig Sullivan, BS CoE ’96, BS EE ’96, MS ’01 and JD ’05, has worked for another matching gift company, Qualcomm, since earning his juris doctorate at MU. He said the law degree opened a lot of doors for him and he currently serves as Qualcomm’s associate patent counsel.
Sullivan did his graduate work in the lab of Michael Jurczyk, MU professor of computer science, and the two still keep in touch. When his faculty mentor told him there were very few computer science scholarships, Sullivan decided to do something about it.
“I got scholarships and a research assistantship while I was MU, and making a gift was something I’d been thinking about,” Sullivan said.
Qualcomm is a wireless technologies company based in San Diego, Calif. When Sullivan approached them about a gift, he learned the company only makes gifts to 501(c)(3) companies. Working with the College of Engineering’s development team, Sullivan was able to make a gift through the University of Missouri College of Engineering Foundation (see sidebar on previous page).
Sullivan made a gift for an annual scholarship in his name and Qualcomm’s matching gift will fund an annual scholarship in the company’s name.
“I really liked MU. It’s a good value and I got a great education,” Sullivan said.
Bob Bloss, BS IE ’77, has worked in human resources at Hallmark for 26 years. Bloss has remained connected with his alma mater and last year, he was inducted into his department’s Hall of Fame.
He also serves on the Dean’s Engineering Advisory Council (DEAC), and it was there that he first considered starting an endowed faculty enhancement fund for IMSE using Hallmark’s matching program to more quickly build it.
At DEAC, Bloss said, he often heard how the College of Engineering works to meet its needs and about its challenges.
“Listening to Dean Thompson speak about where we ranked in faculty salaries, it struck me that without a strong faculty who will stay with the college, you won’t have a quality program. I felt there was a gap for faculty support,” Bloss said.
Bloss spent the first two years at MU as an undecided engineering major. He considered mechanical and civil engineering but didn’t want a career sitting at a design board. “That’s not for me,” he said.
“Then I found out about IMSE [industrial and manufacturing systems engineering]. I could be a business engineer and work in a strategic role,” Bloss said. “I also wanted something in a plant situation, and I liked the human factors aspect that IE offered.”
He first worked for Colgate Palmolive after graduating. He said all of the plant’s engineers started in industrial engineering regardless of their discipline. The IE experience and Colgate’s development opportunities transitioned him into HR work. He eventually was relocated to corporate headquarters in New York, but after three years, he knew it wasn’t for him and he and his wife, Pam (Morris) Bloss, BS NUR ’78 — who he dated all through his college years — headed back to Missouri, where he began his job with Hallmark.
“Being an HR guy, I asked myself how we attract and retain good faculty members, and how do we sustain that?” Bloss said. He decided an endowed faculty chair was a great solution, and started Robert C. and Pamela K. Bloss Faculty Endowment Fund.
“I am happy to do whatever I can to support the College of Engineering,” Bloss said.
University of Missouri College of Engineering Foundation
Founded in 2009, The University of Missouri College of Engineering Foundation is a non-profit fundraising entity, which as a 501c(3), has the ability to raise funds that might not otherwise be available to the college.
Formed in response to budget challenges within the college, the foundation was chartered to garner financial support from alumni and corporations — as in Craig Sullivan’s matched gift through Qualcomm in the accompanying story.
The foundation’s efforts are aimed at fostering a superior education for Mizzou Engineering students and stimulating, innovative research within the college. They also aim to serve as a resource within the state for economic development by supporting the development of student/faculty start-up companies.
To learn more, visit the foundation on the web at mizzouengineeringfoundation.org, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.