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From the Editor:

Doug Goodnough, Reflections Editor
Doug Goodnough, Reflections Editor

The Other Side of “The Ask”

Although I work out of the fundraising (Advancement) office here at Siena Heights, but I’ve never considered myself a fundraiser. However, I’ve grown to appreciate the role our area plays.

I like the term Advancement. It rings true. It’s not just “fundraising” or “development,” as some other institutions or organizations prefer. Our department literally “advances” the University on many fronts, including raising money to support the institution.

During my time at Siena, I’ve come to appreciate my colleagues who travel the area, the state, the country—and sometimes the world—in search of crucial resources. Although they often share how rewarding the experience is “friendraising,” I know it is not an easy job.

As a graduate of another institution, my tendency is to recoil when I get a letter in the mail or a phone call from my alma mater asking for donations for a cause or campaign. I’m sure as a graduate of Siena Heights that is not the case with you (!), however, after seeing the need on the other end first-hand, let me tell you that their efforts are worthwhile.

Our high-profile events such as the Siena Summer Spectacular for Scholarships do a great job communicating the need for student scholarship dollars. But there’s so many other “below-the-radar” projects and initiatives that often don’t get that much attention. Let me point out a few:

  • Working with Wes King, our band director, Advancement was able to raise funds to help purchase new marching band uniforms this year. They made their debut Sept. 13 at our first home football game, and they are slick! Student-designed, these new threads (especially the hat) definitely puts the marching band in the “best dressed” category.
  • Last spring, our football and women’s soccer teams traveled en masse to Italy to practice, compete and take in the culture. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of these student-athletes. And although the coaches and athletes themselves fundraised to make the trip possible, there were some other “benefactors” involved to help some student-athletes make the trip. This happens routinely at Siena Heights because of the generosity of these often “anonymous” donors.
  • Our annual fund drive, including our student caller Phone-A-Thon, helps raise operating dollars the University needs to keep the light on and the doors open. These are not “high profile” projects, but keeping our campus clean, updated and safe requires resources, and the annual fund is the driving force for these necessary expenses. And if you haven’t joined our SHU Crew club, you should. It gets our students, faculty, staff and alumni involved as not only donors, but spirited supporters as well. And the local discount card and T-shirt is all part of the package.
  • Our office has worked to build our planned giving program (aka the Heritage Society) to help people give in a meaningful way for generations to come. Many have established endowed scholarships with these gifts, and I think that is an outstanding way for many to “pay it forward.”

No one likes to ask for money. However, after now being on the other side of “the ask” for the past few years, I have developed a new perspective on the role of fundraising. I hope this column changes yours as well.

Doug Goodnough

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