Azell Francis is the student body president at Georgia Southern University.
Being a student is all about planning for the future, but sometimes life happens, and a student may face having to leave school altogether.
A student in our community lost almost everything in a fire that burned down her house. She was within a semester of graduation and had already her federal student aid, leaving her without money for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. Thankfully, our campus family pulled together, hosting a clothing and food drive to help the student regain stability, a simple act that truly made a big difference.
Unfortunately, stories such as this are not uncommon, and we recognized that as a community, we needed to do more. With this in mind, the SGA created “Eagles for Eagles.” The student-led fundraising campaign raises money for Georgia Southern University students’ whose future at the University may be in jeopardy due to financial setbacks. This campaign encourages students to show their True Blue spirit through philanthropy. The key element is that it’s students who are helping students. The “Eagles for Eagles” awards allow Georgia Southern students to remain focused on their education, and to continue working towards a competitive degree, despite their financial barriers.
As Millennials, we are willing to donate to causes that we identify with. Marc Chardon, CEO of Blackbaud, software that was developed to track non-profit giving trends, explained Millennial giving “The Millennial generation is about identifying with a cause, donating has become very personal and local” [i]. We found that helping a fellow student was one of those personal and local causes that Georgia Southern University students identified with. Student giving programs are also an emerging trend in higher education. The student-led giving campaign at Kansas State University, K-State Proud has raised over $833,000 since its inception eight years ago.
The Eagles for Eagles initiative raises funds in number of ways:
Georgia Southern University “Dancing with the Stars”
1. Providing a campus location for students to donate: On our campus, we are very fortunate to have an entire space designated for student giving located in our student union. Students are encouraged to donate spare change or larger sums in our donation boxes, or they can donate online using the computers that are also provided. We also utilize the space to sell t-shirts or tickets to events to benefit the initiative.
2. Hosting campus events: Eagles for Eagles events ranged from something as simple as collaboration with the University Programming Board to host our annual Doo Dah Step and Dance Show at Homecoming to hosting our very own event “Dancing with the Stars- GSU.”The Doo Dah Step and Dance Show are both long-standing traditions at Georgia Southern University and are always well attended. The one tweak to the tradition was that last year instead of the event being free to students, we asked for a donation of $1 to attend. In so doing, we raised over $2,000.
3. Establishing Partnerships: We have seen the most success when we utilize university partnerships. At Georgia Southern we have an engaged student body with over 250 registered student organizations and by collaborating with organizations from around the University, we were able to not only reach our target of $10,000, but we exceeded it.
Georgia Southern prides itself on being Georgia’s “large scale, small feel” university. The students of Eagle Nation study hard, play hard, and we give back to help our fellow students who need it most!