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Fundraising class raises $8,000 for High Country nonprofits

By Rev. Dr. Christina May

BOONE, N.C.—Students in Appalachian State University’s Principles of Fund Raising class, an upper-level class within the Department of Communication, raised $8,000 for local nonprofit organizations during the spring semester.

View larger imageJunior Hana Ratcliffe, sophomore Heather Hornaday, seniors Mellanee Goodman and Laurel Kassor and sophomores Claire Harris and Megan Sussman with Western Youth Network Development Director Wesley Berry during their bowling extravaganza.View larger imageJuniors Meredith Abercrombie and Taylor Cuthbertson, Senior Savannah Yarish, sophomore Zoe Smith and juniors Madison Barlow and Rachel Erulkar with Children’s Hope Alliance Development Officer Pangshua Riley at their fundraiser hosted by Appalachian Mountain Brewery.View larger imageJuniors Katherine Hart, Emily Williard and Jacob Gordon react to a $100 personal donation they received from a Publix employee.

Five teams, made up six students each, partnered with the following organizations: Western Youth Network; Children’s Hope Alliance/Grandfather Home; High Country Local First; Blood, Sweat and Gears; and Southern Appalachian Historical Association/Horn in the West.

The teams first performed research and analysis of their organization’s fundraising history, constituency, strengths and weaknesses, media usage and case for support. Then the teams determined the appropriate type of campaign to undertake.

The Western Youth Network team held a bowling extravaganza at Boone Bowling Center to raise money to build a rock-climbing wall at the organization’s facility.

The team working with Blood, Sweat and Gears hosted a share night at Appalachian Mountain Brewery. The team also conducted a raffle and coin drive to cover the expenses for five disabled veterans to travel to Boone next month to compete in the Blood, Sweat and Gears cycling events. Restaurants that supported other class events were Come Back Shack and Lost Province.

The course is taught by Rev. Dr. Christina May, who vets nonprofits each year to make sure they have time to work with the class and can offer students a rich experience. “Over the years, I’ve found that nonprofits with a dedicated development officer on staff provide the best mentoring to students,” May said. “And, invariably, the students observe that when a nonprofit’s board members are energetic and invested in the fundraising project, teams raise more money.” May went on to applaud the many local businesses that sponsored her students’ efforts with raffle and silent auction gifts and personal donations.

Senior business management major and team leader Savannah Yarish of Apex was enthusiastic about the course. “Principles of Fund Raising was one of the best classes I have taken my whole college career. It was a lot of hard work, but I learned so much. The whole team absolutely loved having the opportunity to work with Children’s Hope Alliance,” she said.

Junior Jacob Gordon of Pinnacle, an advertising major, echoed these remarks, saying, “It was such a blast to be able to work with Horn in the West and gain actual, real-world experience.” Junior Melissa Holme, a sustainable development major from Raleigh, added, “Dr. May’s class turns the seemingly impossible, into the possible. Running a whole fundraising campaign in the course of a semester seemed daunting but, with guidance, goal setting and teamwork, it was a success. I now feel confident in my abilities to enter into the nonprofit world and face tough challenges.”

Pangshua Riley, development officer for Children’s Hope Alliance, said, “Children’s Hope Alliance faces cutbacks in government support each year. With a mission to help hurting children and families in our communities, we know it takes a community of support, which includes Appalachian State University. The students I partnered with were professional, hard working and compassionate. They coordinated a top-notch event, exceeding their fundraising goal, which will support our local services.”

High Country Local First Executive Director Victoria Potter was a student in the course three years ago, so she understands the complexity of the assignment. “It’s a very hands-on, feel-good class,” she said. “High Country Local First was honored to work with the students from Dr. May’s course. It was a learning experience for us as well, because the student group has given us great feedback on our previous efforts and potential fundraising ideas for the future.”

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