University programs, events encourage students to give back

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In this April 13, 2015, file photo, the Lehigh class officers host a three day event called “Lehigh Made Possible” on the U.C. Front Lawn. The goal of this event is to raise awareness of how generosity and philanthropy make every Lehigh experience possible. (Gimin Lee/B&W Staff)

Contributions and donations increase Lehigh’s capability to progress in departments and organizations across campus. Donations are vital for senior class gifts, athletic budgets, technology and other educational improvements and projects.

Caitlin Saunders, associate director of student philanthropy, said philanthropy at Lehigh is important for students on campus.

She said it is important to educate students and raise awareness regarding the powerful impacts of philanthropy.

“Tuition doesn’t cover the entire cost of Lehigh education, “ Saunders said, “so we rely on alumni, parents and students to make contributions when they can to ensure that we give students the best opportunities.”

Class officers and the Association of Student Alumni organize events throughout the school year to increase philanthropy awareness and encourage donations.

Lehigh Made Possible is a three-day event hosted by the university each year to raise money for the school. This year’s event will be held April 18-20. The first day focuses on awareness and education, the second day on gratitude and the third day on asking students to donate and give back.

Lehigh Made Possible will also include trivia, games and giveaways and provides a chance for students to write thank you notes to donors from Lehigh.

Saunders said getting students to donate can be a challenge at times because tuition is so expensive. However, she said participation and the smallest of donations can make a difference.

Kelly Federico, associate director of stewardship, said student donations are important to give future students opportunities tuition costs do not cover.

“Student philanthropy is important because it is an opportunity for students to make an impact on organizations and initiatives that mean something to them while they are here at Lehigh,” Federico said.

She also said student philanthropy does not always have to be a monetary donation. Students can give their time to community service or on-campus programs as well.

The athletics department has its own programs to encourage participation and philanthropy.

The Lehigh Athletics Partnership is an alumni networking and fundraising mechanism for the athletic department.

The athletic department values relationship-building in order to acquire donations from their alumni, said Bill Griffin, associate director of athletics for external relations and athletics advancement. He said Lehigh Athletics has set an annual fundraising goal of $2.25 million.

In order to achieve this goal, the department has established an event called “March Mania.” This event was launched three years ago and lasts from March 27-April 3, the day of the NCAA March Madness championship game.

March Mania has two components: a parent, alumni and outside supporter side and a current student side. There are three contests within March Mania, each offering $2,000 to the winner, giving athletic teams the chance to win up to $6,000.

The three contests include the percentage of alumni participation by sport, the percentage of participation by young alumni — alumni who graduated within the past 10 years — and the team that generates the largest number of gifts from current players.

Griffin said the event coincides with the athletic mentality of competition and beating records, encouraging student athletes to participate.

“Instead of just asking for financial support, we wanted to have a contest and turn it into a competitive thing,” Griffin said.

Philanthropic donations benefit athletes. With more donations, teams can increase their budgets to cover costs of travel, equipment, gear, schedules and sport technology.

Griffin said the main goal of the program is to raise awareness and support for athletics.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the message,” Griffin said.

Contributions and philanthropic support have an influence on university rankings. Saunders said donations help rankings on U.S. News & World Report.

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