Giving back for a better future

CATS hosted a health and hygiene drive benefiting the Panther Pantry, and packed the goods into kits at their Giving Week Stop and Serve.

MALLORY SCHMITZ

How students can partake in UNI’s 2022 Day of Giving

As the highlight of Giving Week at UNI, Thursday, April 7 marks the annual Day of Giving. The UNI Foundation has been working alongside CATS (Connecting Alumni to Students) in order to create a day of celebrating Panther pride and giving back to the university to give future students even greater opportunities.

Through their Giving Week campaign, the UNI Foundation encourages the community to “Live Purple, Give Gold.”

Connie Hanson, an alumni of UNI and the current associate director of student involvement, has been “living purple” since she was 18 years old.  “Living purple to me is representing UNI in all that you do,” she said. 

“I tell students, when you leave UNI, whether you’re working in the corporate world, education, or not for profit, you’re representing us out in other states, communities and across the world,” she added. 

“So whether that’s our gear, or you have a coffee mug at your desk at work, or you’re talking to your family or your friends about what a great experience you had at UNI, that helps us recruit new students to have those same, hopefully amazing experiences at UNI. I think it’s a way of life, living purple is a way of life.”

The “give gold” part of the slogan refers to giving generously to UNI.

While giving back to the university can take a number of forms, a key part of the Day of Giving is monetary donations. The UNI Foundation has set a goal of receiving 1,876 donations on April 7 in honor of the year UNI was founded. Out of that number, they have a goal to receive 250 donations from current students.

In addition, a 2016 UNI graduate has agreed to donate $10 for every student donation up to $2,500.

The concept of donating additional money to the university after paying tuition costs is not always met with enthusiasm from students. Hansen however believes that giving back plays an instrumental role in preparing students for their own futures.

She encouraged students to start small. “If every student on campus could give up an iced mocha coffee one day, and instead take that four or five dollars and donate that back to UNI, imagine the impact that our students could have on our institution financially.”

“We’re not asking you to give thousands of dollars. We’re not asking you to give hundreds of dollars,” she reminded. “A $5, one-time gift every year starts you on the path of what it looks like to give back financially.”

Donors have the ability to choose which area of the university they want their money to go toward, however the UNI Foundation encourages donating to the Annual Fund, giving the university the most flexibility in order to equitably utilize the funds.

Hansen still emphasized the importance of students thinking about their passions when beginning to donate.  

“I’ve always given back to athletics because that’s also a passion and entertainment of mine,” she said. “I love to go to Panther athletics, so I love to see that I’m able to maybe help some student athletes. Not everybody is on a full-ride scholarship.”

In addition, giving back will look very different for each and every student depending on their situation. Giving does not only have to include money. Hansen has seen firsthand how students giving of their time, talents, and treasures makes a difference through her position on campus.

“Being in charge of the Panther Pantry on campus, we could not do what we do if it wasn’t for the generosity of not only donors, but our students that have given back, whether that’s food products, volunteered their time to help us in the pantry, or students that have given back monetarily as well,” she explained. “Students helping students is probably one of the coolest things I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of.”

Lastly, Hansen challenged students to look at the bigger picture.

“We’re asking you to make an investment in the institution that you attend, and that money may help your roommate, your best friend, your partner, or someone sitting next to you in class who is just struggling to make ends meet. When you’re able to give back, then we’re able to give a scholarship back to that person, or make more facilities or better laboratories,” she said.

“Anything that you see on campus, somehow we’ve had to finance, so everybody wins,” Hansen added. “You may not see it directly impacting yourself, but everybody wins in the end.”

Students and community members looking to donate can visit dayofgiving.uni.edu.  The minimum donation amount is $5.  More fundraising tips and challenges can also be found on the Day of Giving website.