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Appalachian students partner with community nonprofits

BOONE—Appalachian State University juniors and seniors who were enrolled in Principles of Fund Raising, an upper-level class offered in the university’s Department of Communication, raised almost $5,000 for area nonprofits this fall.

View larger imageAppalachian State University seniors Kristen Stroud, left, Emily Weston, Casey Forrest and Taylor Bowers are pictured with Bob Gibbard, center, president of the High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. The students raised $1,700 as part of a class on fundraising. The money will fund an ROTC scholarship at Appalachian.View larger imageAppalachian State University senior Matt Benfield, left, and junior Morgan Barnette partnered with Menchie’s to raise money for Two Rivers Community School.View larger imageAppalachian State University Senior Jenny Luihn is pictured with a miniature pony in the care of Horse Helpers of the High Country. She was part of a Principles of Fundraising class that raised funds for local nonprofit agencies.

Teams made up of four or five students partnered with nine local organizations in a mutually beneficial arrangement that allowed the students to learn industry best practices by conducting a fund-raising campaign from start to finish. The organizations which offered service-learning to the classes and received funds were Horse Helpers of the High Country, Hunger and Health Coalition, The Children’s Playhouse, High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, F.A.R.M. Cafe, Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, Watauga Arts Council, Blue Ridge Conservancy and Two Rivers Community School.

After research and assessment of their community partners’ fund-raising history, constituency, strengths and weaknesses, media usage and case for support, most of the teams determined that a special event was the appropriate campaign to undertake. One team held an email campaign, and two teams conducted membership campaigns, which will result in on-going donations for years to come. Students working with the Watauga Arts Council designed and implemented a new sustaining membership program with creatively named giving levels: Apprentice ($10 a month), Artisan ($20 a month) and Master ($30 a month).

Course professor Dr. Christina May expressed gratitude to the nonprofit board and staff members who collaborated with the classes. “This is another great example of how Appalachian and the Boone community are working together to improve lives in the High Country,” May said. “The students got a lot out of this assignment because it put them up close and personal with the needs our nonprofits address. Some of them were moved and changed by the project and by the realization that they made a measurable difference.”

Senior public relations major Kristen Terry stated that Principles of Fund Raising was the first class that gave her the opportunity to partner with an actual client. “Although I’m just a student,” she said, “I was able to take on the role of a working professional. This experience allowed me to apply everything I was learning inside the classroom to a real-world setting.” Terry was the leader of the team that raised money for Two Rivers Community School by coordinating an eat-a-thon at Boone restaurants five nights in a row. The restaurants that supported the team were Chili’s, Menchie’s, Chick-fil-A, Five Guys and Chipotle. Businesses that hosted other teams’ campaign events were Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Boone Bowling Center, Lowes Home Improvement, Sweet Frog and Bojangles.

Senior Katie Cronin, who is majoring in electronic media/broadcasting, was a member of the team paired with Hunger and Health Coalition. The team collected pocket change on campus. Cronin explained, “When we were creating our campaign, we decided to call it a Week of Change to play on the idea of small acts of change in the community. The Hunger and Health Coalition has changed the impact of poverty in the High Country through small assistance such as food, clothing, fire wood and such, that many of us take for granted. At the end of the week, we raised over $400, the equivalent of 1,800 pounds of food. That just goes to show that there really is no small act of change. It adds up and it changes lives.”

Bob Gibbard, president of the High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, provided feedback to the students who raised money for his organization. He told them, “I believe the real judge of success is when someone asks, ‘Would you work with this team again on a future project?’ My answer would be a resounding ‘Yes, in a heartbeat.’” The $1,700 raised will fund an ROTC scholarship at Appalachian.

The Principles of Fund Raising course is taught every fall and spring. Different nonprofit organizations are asked to partner with the class each semester. To inquire about the possibility of serving as a community partner, contact Dr. Christina May at maycm@appstate.edu.

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