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I have always thought of myself as a generous person. Yes, I am frugal and I put effort into managing my financial resources in an informed and responsible manner. However, I buy Girl Scout cookies, give canned goods to the Boy Scout food-pantry drive, tip generously at restaurants, and give to the United Way through my employer.

But I have never thought of myself as a “donor.” I always thought that donors were people with six-figure incomes, an expensive late model car, an executive management career, and an enviable stock portfolio. Like the imposing word “philanthropy,” I thought that that level of charitable giving was for people with three-name monikers, followed by a Roman numeral.

Neither did I own a company, where I could give in-kind donations of goods or services, nor write off contributions on my corporate taxes. Not being what I call “a joiner” I never felt I could volunteer extensive amounts of time in lieu of monetary gifts. Occasional media stories about the extravagance and fiscal misdeeds of well-known individual charity executives, did little to encourage my motivation to give.

No, donor was not an adjective I used to describe myself.

But, then one day all that changed with a single phone call. That call came from the Major Gift Officer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, of which I am an undergrad and graduate alumnus. In all honesty, my first thought was, “Wow lady, are you barking up the wrong tree!” As someone with no established campus affiliation or alumni reputation, I was puzzled why she was reaching out to me. But my ego was flattered and despite feelings of misrepresentation, I accepted her invitation to lunch near my home.

As she brought me up to date on campus innovations and accomplishments, I found myself thinking with pride, “Hey, that’s MY school!” And although the word “donation” had not even been uttered, I felt my glass-half-empty perspective begin to flip. Having no dependent children or minor-aged relatives, I began to think about my posterity. Then she mentioned the Pride Center, something I could not believe would ever be a reality. As she invited me to come visit, exciting ideas began fomenting in my mind. Suddenly, I remembered that I had a small cache of stock, which I had purchased when I worked for the retail division of a major energy company decades before. Letting the dividends accrue over time, it represented a modest amount, which could be put to good use.

Following subsequent discussions, the Tom Affholder LGBTQ Leadership Award was established. Named after my first domestic partner, who passed away in 1992, while I was commuting 110 miles every day to UW-W in pursuit of my Master’s in Education, it felt like a fitting tribute.

Today, as I seek partners to help me build this award into a full scholarship, the words of the first-century Jewish scholar Hillel echo in my mind, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?”

For more information on making a gift of stock, bonds or mutual funds to UW-Whitewater, please contact foundation@uww.edu.

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UW-Whitewater Foundation, Inc.
Alumni Center
800 W Main St
Whitewater, WI 53190

Gift FAQ's

UW-Whitewater Foundation’s EIN number is 39-6081189.  This can be used on any tax forms requiring documentation of donations to a 501(c)(3) organization.

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UW-Whitewater Foundation, Inc.