Jack Au gives from the heart - Peace Corps volunteer in Philippines

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By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 3:06 pm: Edit Post

Jack Au gives from the heart - Peace Corps volunteer in Philippines

Jack Au gives from the heart - Peace Corps volunteer in Philippines

Jack Au gives from the heart

For Jack Au '73, the art, science, and psychology of fundraising comes down to a simple insight: "You've got to give from the heart."

It's a precept that certainly applies to Au himself, whose wholehearted support of Kenyon goes all the way back to his years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Philippines, when he was earning $75 a month but still sent the Kenyon Fund a contribution, along with a note apologizing for the small amount.

Today Jack Au, a first vice president at Mellon Bank in New York City, deals with considerably larger sums of money, not only in his work but also in what has been called his "second career" as a Kenyon volunteer. An alumni trustee and a veteran fundraiser for the College, Au is in charge of major gifts for the capital campaign, leading the effort to attract contributions of between $25,000 and $100,000.

Gifts at this level are crucial to the success of the campaign, Au notes. "We expect to receive $14 million to $16 million from this group of donors," he says, "which is a substantial portion of Kenyon's overall campaign goal of $100 million."

He adds that, beyond their inherent financial value, major gifts serve as inspiration to other donors and thus help the campaign gather momentum. "A major gift shows the whole body of alumni and friends of the College how one person is willing to make a commitment and thus make a real difference. It's a way of urging others to step up and support an institution we all love."

Au's own commitment to Kenyon has been remarkable. A first-generation college student whose parents ran a Chinese restaurant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Au arrived in Gambier a self-described introvert. "The College forced me to open up and become involved in a community. I realized that you can make things happen, create your own world. This was a valuable lesson for the Peace Corps, where you have to be resourceful, and also in the business world, where you have to find ways to meet customers' needs."

After his graduation from Kenyon with a degree in economics and two years with the Peace Corps, Au went on to earn an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia and then entered the field of commercial banking. Throughout his career, he has put his resourcefulness to work the College, helping the Office of Admissions in recruiting (particularly among Asian-American students), serving as a class agent and as chair of the New York City phonathon for many years, and leading the Kenyon Fund Executive Committee in 1992-93 and 1993-94. College officials who have watched Au host meetings and receptions, talk with applicants, give career advice to students on campus, and organize fundraising drives describe him as tireless, one of the most dedicated volunteers Kenyon has ever had.

When the College awarded him an honorary degree in 1996, the citation recognized his "legendary tenacity" as a fundraiser and noted that he had "taken on a second career as a combination admissions recruiter, alumni representative, and Kenyon good will ambassador." Au has also received the D. Morgan Smith Outstanding Class Agent Award in 1988, the Distinguished Service Award in 1994, and, in 1995, the College's highest alumni accolade, the Gregg Cup.

As chair of the major gift effort for the campaign, Au will work closely with "team leaders"--fellow volunteers who, in addition to making donations themselves, will solicit donations from other alumni and Kenyon supporters. He points out that a group of donors may choose a particular goal for their contributions, in effect pooling their gifts for a single purpose, such as endowing a professorship.

But the fundamental reason for giving, Au insists, is the prompting of the heart. "It shouldn't be an obligation," he says. "The ultimate factor is love for the institution and a belief in its mission, in what the institution stands for. You feel good about giving to a cause that you really believe in. You're looking inside and saying, 'This is what I want to do.'"

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Special Interests - Banking; Service



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