Making an early impact

Liz Friden, B.A. 2018, former alumni/advancement liaison for the Student Philanthropy Council (SPC), joined the group as a student because she was “looking for different ways to get involved” at Catholic University.

Formed at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, SPC helps create a culture of philanthropy by educating students, faculty, staff, and alumni on the importance of giving. Members help promote Giving Tuesday and The Founders Day Giving Challenge, volunteer at University Advancement and Alumni events, and more.

A fall 2018 graduate, Friden said the SPC is completely different from any other campus organization. She added her involvement entailed “being the connection between current students and alumni.” It also lent itself to her area of study: a major in politics.

She also likes that students are encouraged to give, with the point stressed that even very small amounts — “students are giving, like, $2 or $5, not $20” — are welcome and still count toward the University’s fundraising goals. The SPC wants to encourage the habit of giving, recognizing that, once alumni, the amounts will naturally increase over time.

Student giving also impacts U.S. News and World Report rankings, Friden said.

“Part of what they take into account is the giving participation rate of alumni (and seniors count as alumni) invest. That improves the school’s ranking.”

In terms of impact, Friden enjoyed showing students that people care about them.

“We, and our families, are spending so much money to go here,” she said, and when alumni or friends of the University make a gift to a team or department, that shows students others are interested in their college experience and their futures.

“And the school cares and wants to know that we care about the school, too,” she said.

But a Catholic University education is “more than just something on a resume,” Friden added, and the SPC wants to help “paint a picture of Catholic University.”

SPC membership is open to all students. Members must attend a monthly meeting and volunteer one hour per week in the Office of Alumni Relations and The Fund for Catholic University.

“Everyone can apply, and all are equally qualified. We really want more people on campus to know about it and we hope to have more athletes join,” she said, adding she would like to help bridge the gap between student groups and see graduate students serve, too. “A goal of mine is to get more students comfortable talking to alumni. And I definitely want to make sure alumni know what students value on campus.”

An SPC goal this year is to encourage 50% of the senior class to give a senior gift. Last year, 48% of the senior class made a gift, which was significantly higher than the overall rate of alumni participation.