The method of procedure in this case has been substantially the same as with all other contributions. The presentation of the needs of the university has been made in writing by the officers of the university, whose special duty it is to prepare its budgets and superintend its finances. A committee of the trustees, with the president, have annually conferred, at a fixed time, with our Department of Benevolence, as to its needs. Their conclusions have generally been entirely unanimous and I have found no occasion hitherto seriously to depart from their recommendations. There have been no personal interviews and no personal solicitations. It has been a pleasure to me to make these contributions, but that pleasure has arisen out of the fact that the university is located in a great centre of empire; that it has rooted itself in the affections and interest of the people among whom it is located; that it is doing a great and needed work—in fine, that it has been able to attract and to justify the contributions of its patrons East and West. It is not personal interviews and impassioned appeals, but sound and justifying worth, that should attract and secure the funds of philanthropy.
The people in great numbers who are constantly importuning me for personal interviews in behalf of favourite causes err in supposing that the interview, were it possible, is the best way, or even a good way, of securing what they want. Our practice has been uniformly to request applicants to state their cases tersely, but nevertheless as fully as they think necessary, in writing. Their application is carefully considered by very competent people chosen for this purpose. If, thereupon, personal interviews are found desirable by our assistants, they are invited from our office.
Written presentations form the necessary basis of investigation, of consultation, and comparison of views between the different members of our staff, and of the final presentation to me.
It is impossible to conduct this department of our work in any other way. The rule requiring written presentation as against the interview is enforced and adhered to not, as the applicant sometimes supposes, as a cold rebuff to him, but in order to secure for his cause, if it be a good one, the careful consideration which is its due—a consideration that cannot be given in a mere verbal interview.
It is easy to do harm in giving money. To give to institutions which should be supported by others is not the best philanthropy. Such giving only serves to dry up the natural springs of charity.
It is highly important that every charitable institution shall have at all times the largest possible number of current contributors. This means that the institution shall constantly be making its appeals; but, if these constant appeals are to be successful, the institution is forced to do excellent work and meet real and manifest needs. Moreover, the interest of many people affords the best assurance of wise economy and unselfish management as well as of continued support.