NMSU Working to Build a Culture of Student Philanthropy

When Alexandra Tovar, a New Mexico State University senior studying Spanish, walked into NMSU’s Corbett Center Student Union on Nov. 29 and made her first Giving Tuesday donation, she was already part of a growing number of NMSU students who are learning that they can make a difference in the lives of future Aggies before they have crossed the graduation stage themselves.

Two new initiatives at NMSU are focused on building a culture of philanthropy that starts in college, but will last beyond graduation. It’s a two-pronged approach: reaching out to students online through social media and crowdfunding, and creating a student philanthropy group that’s open to students across the NMSU system.

Sponsored by the NMSU Foundation, the Student Foundation was created as a home for students at all campuses who are looking to give back to their campus community. An all-volunteer group of students, the Student Foundation solicits gifts from other students through tabling, regular meetings and social media.

Tovar is the first secretary for the new Student Foundation.

“I am involved in the Student Foundation because I believe it shows that philanthropy is important to my life,” Tovar said. “Organizations like these are stepping stones to achieving a lifelong giving mindset and it’s that mindset that will help show that I want to be a part of my community as much as possible.”

This year alone, 123 students made a gift on Giving Tuesday, and as an incentive, the NMSU Foundation said “thank you” in person at an exclusive reception at Club 27 with Chancellor Garrey Carruthers.

“We want to empower our students to raise money for the causes they care about right here on campus,” said Adrian Bautista, adviser for the Student Foundation and annual giving officer at the NMSU Foundation. “By seeing what impact their donation could make within their program or in their college, they have a chance to get more involved and more invested in NMSU.”

Victor Meraz, a senior in mechanical engineering technology with a minor in renewable energy, and president of Aggies Without Limits, was one of the student donors who were invited to the Club 27 reception.

“I had the opportunity to meet and chat with like-minded students and was able to speak with Chancellor Carruthers about Aggies Without Limits,” said Meraz, whose organization focuses on creating sustainable infrastructure such as water systems, bridges and roads, both locally and for communities around the world.

“I believe in supporting and helping others, and do my best to adhere to altruistic values,” Meraz said. “Promoting positive accountability in our communities starts with us.”

Another student philanthropy initiative is NMSU’s new online crowdfunding platform, Make a STATEment. Crowdfunding is a way to raise money by reaching out to a community of supporters who give online to the specific projects that matter most to them. Some well-known examples of crowdfunding platforms are GoFundMe or Kickstarter.

What differentiates Make a STATEment from other crowdfunding platforms is that groups don’t pay a fee to participate, which helps more of the donor support to go directly to the cause. Student projects also get to keep the donations raised even if their fundraising goal is not completely met. Every donation to Make a STATEment is tax-deductible through the NMSU Foundation.

On the project page, the project champions share their story, and explain how a gift will support their cause, through an interactive video. The groups who participate will be able to post updates demonstrating the impact of each contribution.

To make a gift to the Student Foundation and view campus projects that are seeking funding through Make a STATEment, visit makeastatement.nmsu.edu. For more information, visit NMSU Student Foundation or contact Bautista at [email protected].

Author:  Cassie McClure – NMSU