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EMU Foundation

First-time Donors Embrace Fundraising Challenge

by Jeff Samoray

Thanks to a unique giving opportunity created by an anonymous and extraordinarily generous donor, many Eastern students, alumni and friends took their first step into the world of philanthropy.

Last spring, EMU launched “100 Grand. 100 Days.”—a new donor challenge. During this initiative, an anonymous donor, a former EMU Regent, matched all donations up to $5,000 made by any first-time donor to Eastern until the $100,000 goal was met.

The campaign—aimed at students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of EMU—was very successful, surpassing $100,000 nearly a month ahead of schedule. More than 800 new donors contributed, raising more than $126,000. The gifts have benefitted nearly every corner of campus, from scholarships and department funds to student initiatives and athletic teams.
Eastern’s Honors College made a special commitment to the campaign, encouraging current honors students and alumni to become first-time donors.

“We’re building a spirit of philanthropy among our students,” says Rebecca Sipe, professor of English and Honors College director. “More than 65 current and former honors students made a gift during the challenge. We created a buzz around the campaign by establishing an honors student activities fund. We invited our students to give a minimum of $10 to the fund, which supports various activities like field trips and study abroad opportunities. The students were excited about pooling their resources to help their peers take advantage of these kinds of experiences. Some of the Honors College staff also matched the student gifts.”

Ben Guidot, an Honors College senior studying History and Anthropology, was one of the students who made a gift during the challenge.

“I was very fortunate to have the time and the opportunity to go back to college,” Guidot says. “But some students drop out due to financial reasons or a family hardship.  I thought if I could help those students in some way by making a gift, it would be a great way to make society better.”

The challenge also inspired some alumni to create funds to impact their former areas of study. Dina Hough (BA03, MS11) says the challenge provided the perfect opportunity for her to establish an endowed scholarship supporting graduate students in Hotel and Restaurant Management who have a passion for research.

“Giving back to Eastern is really important to help students not only see the value of their education, but also recognize that they’re supported by Eastern graduates,” Hough says.

The $100,000 anonymous gift created a spark for engagement and philanthropic outreach on campus.

“I wish I could give the anonymous donor who created the challenge a hug,” Sipe says. “It was one of the most clever grass-roots giving opportunities I’ve ever seen. It ignited in our students a feeling of connectedness to Eastern and gave them the ability to make things happen at their university.”

EMU Foundation is located at 112 Welch Hall, 850 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197 Phone: 734.484.1322