Jennifer Doak-Mathewson (@jpdoak) is the online communications specialist at CASE. Thanks to David Moltz, writer/editor at CASE, for contributing to this post.
The second annual Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day (#studentengageday), organized by CASE ASAP, is almost here. Student philanthropy groups around the world are gearing up for a day—or in some cases, a week—of thank-a-thons, tag days and other ways in which they’re showing appreciation for donors. Here’s why they’re participating:
“Speaking to students on campus, it seems that nobody knows what the Tufts Annual Fund is or what it supports,” said Alexandra Hyde, alumni relations officer at Tufts University, in an interview. “We’re using this event to specifically educate students about annual giving.” This year, the Tufts Student Fund Leadership Corps will host a thank-a-thon where students can write thank you notes to donors, enter a raffle and sample Jumbo the elephant cookies and hot chocolate.
At Georgia College & State University, SEP Day is a chance not just to raise awareness about the importance of philanthropy, but to participate in giving back to the broader campus community. “We want students to be aware of the importance of charitable giving, but we are also raising money for the Helping Hands Hardship Fund this year,” said Kate Pope, who works in the advancement department at the university. The fund helps students in financial straits and, since it too has little campus awareness, was chosen to shed light on how to give back, according to the campus newspaper.
The University of Buffalo will hold its first Thank and Give Day on Feb. 27 during which they will put tags on items around campus, ranging from microscopes to buildings, to show how private gifts help cover costs. “We want to tell [students] how philanthropy can change lives, show them the effect that others’ giving has had on them here at UB and ask them to thank those givers and think about becoming givers themselves someday,” Nancy Wells, vice president of development and alumni relations at the university, told a campus reporter.
“We had more than 400 thank you cards signed last year—our goal was 400,” said Frank Mumford, assistant director of annual giving at North Dakota State University Development Foundation and Alumni Association, in an interview. “We’re also going to have bows on 21 different buildings on campus that are either renovated or new and put gift tags on them that say ‘To NDSU students.’…We’ve had such great support from our leadership. Unilaterally, everyone gets excited about this.”
Rhodes University in South Africa is expanding its scope even wider—to setting a world record. On Feb. 27, students will paint philanthropic messages and thank you notes on the world’s largest pair of overalls. Not only are they attempting to set a Guinness World record, but their love for donors will be writ (very) large for the world to see:
Small Gestures = Big Impact
In February’s BriefCASE, 2013 SEP Day participants talked about the impact these in-person activities could have—all for the cost of a few bags of candy and some card-making supplies. “We had a lot of ‘aha’ moments when people came up to sign cards,” said Kathleen Kulik, coordinator of young alumni engagement at Cleveland State University, who set up a thank you card station where students could write to donors and pose for thank you pictures. “Once they understood what this was all about, they wanted to customize messages for donors…like ‘You made my experience possible through a scholarship.’”
Hyde, alumni relations officer at Tufts University, agreed. “This event is costing like $300. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment to generate that awareness between engagement and philanthropy and that those things go hand in hand.”
If you’re looking to join Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day or even start or expand a student advancement program, here are a few resources:
- A round-up of some 2013 SEP Day activities and a list of activity samples
- Resources on starting or expanding student advancement programs
- Student philanthropy program examples
- Information on CASE Affiliated Student Advancement Programs