It’s senior spring for the class of 2019, and many of us are preoccupied with figuring out where we’ll live next year, how we can make the most of our time with our friends and how on Earth we’ll get our theses done. Something that might not be on all of our minds is what kind of legacy our class will leave behind after we receive our diplomas. While we will certainly leave behind legacies of excellence in academics, arts, athletics and all other forms of discourse and development, it is our hope that we will also leave a legacy of gratitude for our time at Yale. This gratitude is not necessarily expressed only for the larger institution that is Yale University, but also for the little things that have made each and every one of our experiences so special. The opportunities Yale has provided us, the diversity of friendships and the myriad of adventures in and out of the classroom are all reasons why we have chosen to help lead this year’s Senior Class Gift campaign — because we feel truly grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it all.

As volunteers for the Senior Class Gift — the annual fundraising campaign for the Alumni Fund — our focus is not on a dollar amount. Rather, our goal is to generate maximum participation from the senior class, starting as many graduates as possible on the path to staying involved and supporting Yale as alumni. Entirely separate from the endowment, the Alumni Fund supports a variety of different elements of the University, without which Yale would not be the same. The Alumni Fund is a critical component of the budgets for undergraduate life, facilities, library resources, faculty and, perhaps most importantly, financial aid.

We’re often asked why we need to give the University more money when its endowment is already so large. The reality is that only a very small portion of the endowment can be spent each year and most is designated to restricted purposes, leaving funding gaps in crucial areas such as financial aid. In fiscal year 2017, the endowment provided 33 percent of the University’s operating income. Yale relies on generous annual gifts from alumni and other supporters to help enable everyday operations and provide additional funding for the things that make our school so special: need-blind admissions, the first-year counselor program, extensive library collections, world-class facilities and a plethora of University-funded student organizations.

As you contemplate donating to this year’s Senior Class Gift, think about all of the experiences of your undergraduate career. Think about that one class you took for which you couldn’t wait to get to lecture every week, your FroCo group in which you made your first friends, that club that’s become your family for the last four years, that research that inspired you to apply to med school, those late night games of pool you used to play in the buttery. Reflect on these memories, recognize how you have been affected by past Yale donors and consider how you might want to support the classes to come.

There are numerous other reasons to get involved with the Senior Class Gift campaign, whether it’s working to earn your college one of the Alumni Fund’s Nathan Hale Scholarships ($10,000 awarded to an incoming first year), attending various social events, reconnecting with different people in the senior class or helping provide future Yalies the same breadth of opportunities that you’ve had. These different reasons could lead you to help one of your college co-chairs plan events, becoming one of your college’s gift agents or just learning about the Yale Alumni Fund to better understand how your gift impacts future Yalies. Ultimately, any involvement with the Senior Class Gift is one of the best ways you can say thank you to the places and people at Yale who have been so vital in our development. So, if you want to pay it forward and join the gratitude movement, donate to this year’s Senior Class Gift at SCG.yale.edu or reach out to any of us to find out more.

Otis Baker is a senior in Trumbull College. Sarah Better is a senior in Saybrook College. Ronny Choudhury is a senior in Davenport College. Marianna Cuomo Maier is a senior in Saybrook College. Chris Quazzo is a senior in Trumbull College. Contact them at otis.baker@yale.edu, sarah.better@yale.edu, sohail.choudhury@yale.edu, marianna.cuomomaier@yale.edu, and christopher.quazzo@yale.edu, respectively.