The $5 Challenge Grant

It’s only fitting that my job as a college professor and my habit of saving $5 bills should merge. My two daughters were both in college 13 years ago when I started my practice of saving $5s. It was, simply, the only way I could manage to save even a small amount of money while shouldering, along with my husband, the responsibility of financing their college educations.

Segue to 2016. Both daughters are college grads and well on their way to mid-level career success and I’m teaching the next generation of college students struggling to pay for school. Many of my best and brightest students at Lasell College in Newton, MA are benefiting from full or partial scholarships, which is one reason I donate regularly to the college’s annual fundraising efforts.

This year, I decided to do something different. Instead of just writing out a donation check, I issued a challenge grant to recent graduates of Lasell. I offered to match every donation of $5 or more (up to $3000) And in less than one week, more than four dozen first-time givers have stepped forward with another 100 alum promising to do the same before the challenge expires on New Years Eve. The way it looks now, I’ll be reaching my giving limit because of the generosity of others.

I thought the readers of my blog would enjoy seeing the $5 savings habit in its latest incarnation. The following video leads the way.

Yours in Five,










5 thoughts on “The $5 Challenge Grant

  1. This is such a generous awesome fundraising idea, Marie. Amazing what you’ve accomplished with an idea that began simply, and remained so… saving fives! God bless your efforts this coming year!!

    • Here’s what’s also neat about this challenge, Patricia. Even if recent alum only donate $5 this year, their gift means so much. Studies show once an alum gives to their alum mater the chances they will continue to be a donor in the future dramatically increases. So, $5 today could become $50, then $500 as they rise in their careers and income level.

  2. I love it! What a brilliant way to raise money. It’s a perfect way for recent graduates who may not be making much money to participate in a fund drive for Lasell.

    • That’s the point exactly, Julie. Almost everyone can afford $5. Today is one week and two days into the campaign and 55 alum from the last three years have contributed so far and all for the first time. The majority of gifts are for $5. Some are for $10 and $15. But to my amazement, there have been two gifts of $50, one gift of $100. and one for $300, actually given by the alum’s mother, but turned onto the campaign by her daughter, recent grad. It’s had a snowball effect so far.

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