One Step At a Time

19 December 2014

For his first three years out of college, Tim Carroll ’09 was a modestly paid Americorps volunteer for College Possible, a nonprofit organization that coaches and supports college-bound low-income students. He had to watch every penny, but he always carved out a tiny portion of his annual stipend as a symbolic gift to Carleton. “I gave five dollars a year,” he recalls. “At the time, that’s all I had to spare.”

The small gift served as something of a promise. It was Carroll’s annual reminder to himself that Carleton—and the values it represents—is worth supporting.

When Carroll took a job in Williams College’s financial aid office in 2012, he decided to increase his charitable giving as his income grew. He’d benefited from Carleton’s generous need-based financial aid and he wanted to support that aid for future students. He set an ambitious goal for himself: a $600 annual gift to Carleton.

Even though he was giving at a level that was 120 times greater than his early gifts, Carroll made the increase manageable by dividing his gift into monthly payments that were charged to his credit card throughout the year. He didn’t miss the money each month, and by the end of the year he’d tallied a significant donation.

Now a graduate student in the University of Michigan’s master’s degree program in higher education, Carroll has shifted his giving to reflect his lower income, but he continues to give to Carleton monthly. And when his income climbs again, he expects his giving will as well. “For me, it was important to get in the habit of budgeting my gifts according to my income from the start,” he says. “Carleton is the kind of school it is today because of the generosity of generations of people who came before me. I want to be part of that.” 

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