Student Philanthropy Soars
Student giving at DU is up. Way up. In the 2017-2018 academic year, student giving more than doubled over the prior year, with more than 2,100 students giving financially to programs and funds that they care about that matter to them.
Nicholas Bowlby, assistant director of Student Philanthropy, mentors a group that has played an instrumental role in growing student giving on campus: the University of Denver Student Foundation (DUSF).
After a successful peer-to-peer fundraising effort for the Student Emergency Fund during the 2016 One Day for DU demonstrated students’ strong interest in supporting fellow students, DUSF kicked off in fall of that same year. The organization had two goals: to increase student giving and provide students with hands-on experience in fundraising and development.
Since its founding, members of DUSF have worked to increasingly integrate philanthropy into the campus culture. Their efforts are creating groundbreaking results, with participation levels of students in each class year more than doubling during the past year.
Harriet Pryor, a junior and director of Stewardship for DUSF, said, “DU is already asking for thousands of dollars in tuition from students. A lot of students think: Why should we give to DU? DUSF asks students to think not so much about giving back, but about paying it forward. We ask them to think about those experiences and groups that have really made their DU experience special and consider how they might pay it forward to current and future DU students.”
“We want students to realize that most of us don’t have much money to give, but when students give a dollar here and a dollar there, it really makes a difference. We’ve raised thousands of dollars this year for causes that students care about from students giving the little they did have.”
One of the ways in which students paid it forward this year was through the Winter Carnival Scholarship Fund, which DUSF established so that cost wouldn’t be a barrier for any student who wanted to attend. When students purchased Winter Carnival tickets this year, they were asked to consider making a small donation toward someone else’s ticket.
In all, 230 students donated to the fund, and all donations were matched by DUSF. The money collected provided scholarships for students to attend the 2018 Winter Carnival.
“Throughout the development world, donors want to see the personal impact of their donations on the causes they really care about,” Bowlby said.
This is true amongst the DU student population, too, Bowlby said. The top 10 programs and funds to which students contributed in 2017-2018, including the Club Sports Program Fund, the Student Emergency Fund and The Food Pantry Gift Fund, all have a direct impact on DU students.
“We want students to realize that most of us don’t have much money to give, but when students give a dollar here and a dollar there, it really makes a difference. We’ve raised thousands of dollars this year for causes that students care about from students giving the little they did have,” Pryor said.
After such a successful fundraising year, Pryor said one of DUSF’s goals for the 2018-2019 school year is to think of new, innovative ways to empower students to give back on their own to causes they care about. “Philanthropy isn’t just about money. It’s about time and energy. If we can get students to care about other causes, their friends, students in need—they start to see that there is this connectivity on campus. Students become more of a community,” she said.