In the fall of 2013, the Office of College Advancement at St. Joseph’s Long Island Campus will be introducing a microphilanthropy program that gives every student the opportunity to directly impact and transform their college experience to the ways they always imagined. 2BSJC is a fundraising program that handles a variety of student-focused initiatives, which will be managed by the students themselves.
“I think that it’s a great idea and I hope that the school and the students embrace it, and realize that they can make a difference today,” says James Graham, director of college advancement for the Long Island Campus.
“It’s similar to Kickstarter, a crowd sourced fundraising concept, where students can come up with a project and do the outreach to fund the project fully,” Mr. Graham continues.
“I hear a lot of people say ‘I wish we had this’ or ‘I wish we did that,’ and it’s all possible when you really think about it.”
Once the students come up with a project, they can fill out an application that explains how their idea will benefit SJC and, if approved by the college advancement office, students will be able to begin their venture.
Throughout the process, the Office of College Advancement is eager to help their philanthropic students in several aspects. “We would offer them all the background support that people generally don’t want to do,” Mr. Graham says, “and we’ll send out the information to our 30,000 alumni, to help the students get their projects accomplished.”
Although students have direct control over crafting and developing their projects, the college advancement office will help this production through the business office. With this, a personalized fundraising page will be set up at sjcgives. sjcny.edu for each project. The website provides students the opportunity to reach out to friends, family and the community to inquire support for their mission.
“[Students] will be able to accept the gifts online,” Mr. Graham says, “so people can make credit card donations online, but they’ll also be able to send the gifts in through direct mail or however the students would like to solicit.”
The college advancement office will also contribute in organizing the 2BSJC website, by tracking and acknowledging all donations, as well as advertising each project and its goals through the website, SJC social media outlets and through alumni solicitations.
Part of this process deals with creating “a synopsis of what the project is going to accomplish and what the end result is going to be,” Mr. Graham explains. “For instance, students should come up with a strategy for their project to remain on the 2BSJC website for no longer than nine months. Also, students can request up to $3,000 in funds with a clear financial plan about how their currency will be used.”
Any requests over $3,000 will be accessible but must be reviewed separately. Once they reach their goal amount, the college advancement office releases the money for students to pursue their objective and make changes across campus.
Before the development of 2BSJC program (the name itself is a play on St. Joseph’s motto: Esse non videri — “To be, not to seem.”), the Golden Eagles men’s soccer team wanted to host a soccer tournament in honor of recently retired coaching legend Gary Smith. To raise money for the event, the players started their own independent philanthropy program. They made phone calls, sent out direct mail pieces and email blasts to seek financial support from the community.
Noticing their courageous effort, the college advancement office has been assisting the team through 2BSJC.
“They had a goal in mind and created something that didn’t exist 12 months earlier,” Mr. Graham says.
“Hopefully, it’s going to be something that will continue in perpetuity and Gary’s name will be remembered at St. Joe’s forever.”
In developing the program, Mr. Graham advises the students at SJC to recognize that they can significantly impact the world around them.
“People have to realize that, to make a difference, you don’t need to be a millionaire anymore, and I think our students should understand that as well,” Mr. Graham says. In addition, beyond making a small impact on the college, he hopes that the students at SJC will recognize this opportunity as a chance to progress themselves as individuals, while leaving a strong impact for students, in years to come.
“The most important projects are the Brooklyn Multipurpose Building Update ones that you feel most strongly about, they don’t need to have the perfect parameters, and to make a program work, you’ve got to want it and be a strong leader, as well as the driving force behind it,” he says.
“If you set a goal and put the time and effort into something, you can accomplish great things.”