Training students to be future donors

ThankQ campaign encourages students to donate to the school before they graduate

Tags such as this one in Stauffer remind students of the importance of giving back to the University. The tags are part of the ThankQ campaign
Tags such as this one in Stauffer remind students of the importance of giving back to the University. The tags are part of the ThankQ campaign

Last year, ThankQ raised a total of $20,998.44 in all faculties.

Between 2004 and 2007, 1,432 students—seven per cent of graduates during those four years—participated in ThankQ. Wannemacher said she wants with expand the participation rate by raising awareness about ThankQ and the importance of donations to first- and second-year students. She also wants to expand the definition of “participation” to not just donating money, but also attending fundraiser events.

Wannemacher said she wants to raise ThankQ’s visibility and presence amongst younger students through events.

“The long-term goal is not to have students suddenly find out in fourth year that [ThankQ exists],” she said. “I don’t want it to be a secret.”

Wannemacher said the average donation for an Arts and Science student was about $30. She said she couldn’t generate a good average for other faculties because some had “matching dollars” where students approached businesses to “match” their donation to increase fundraising.

This year, ThankQ partnered with the AMS to host a Crunch Brunch in December to raise philanthropic awareness of Queen’s and celebrate the AMS’s 150th anniversary, said Fanny Yuen, Sci ’08 and one of ThankQ’s two co-chairs.

“It was a philanthropic type of activity to say that we’re giving something back,” she said.

The Crunch Brunch, held in the upper JDUC, featured free breakfast at midnight, door prizes and performances from various student clubs including the Queen’s Swing Club and the Queen’s Salsa Association. Eight hundred students attended.

Yuen said the event’s goal wasn’t to raise money, but to raise philanthropic awareness.

“We started with a $10,000 budget [for Crunch Brunch] and spent all the money,” Yuen said.

Of the $10,000, $3,000 came from the AMS. The rest came from ThankQ’s operating budget.

Prior to the Crunch Brunch, ThankQ’s major advertising push was Tag Day. On Nov. 26, 2,000 tri-colour tags reading, “This item is here for you, through the generosity of Queen’s Alumni and Friends of Queen’s. Alumni have left their mark. Will you leave yours?” were placed on various places and items on campus. The tags advertised, ThankQ’s website.

Yuen said they chose Nov. 26 because on the 91st day of the term, the University stops running on student tuition.

Yuen said the ThankQ committee calculated all the active expenses of the University including faculty salary, staff and resources, but excluding maintenance expenses such as buildings. They also calculated the total amount of student tuition paid.

“We added up all of the student tuition and then the cost to run the university for the year and found out how many days that amount would equate to per student,” she said. “In other words, if the University only ran on the current student tuition, on day 91 all activities on campus would cease.”

“The rest of the year is paid by alumni’s donation and government dollars.”

The ThankQ committee consists of one or two representatives from each faculty and two student co-chairs. Yuen and Jess Lindal, ArtSci ’08, are this year’s co-chairs. All student committee members are volunteers.

Each faculty except Commerce has a committee under ThankQ. Since 1994, Commerce has organized its own gift initiative called COMMitment.

To generate meaningful gift ideas, the chairs tried to encourage students to contribute ideas via e-mail or during weekly meetings, Yuen said.

They also met with deans of each faculty, who compiled lists of items they felt the faculty needed.

After deans and students suggest ideas, faculty representatives organize a voting period for students to decide on a gift. Yuen said voting methods differ between faculties.

“Some of them happened as class polls, some of them happened as e-mail polls, some Facebook polls. … There’s very little way to come up with a good overall number.” Though students can choose to direct their donations to any initiative they wish, it’s preferable to give within your own faculty to foster a sense of community within a faculty, Yuen said.

Depending on the gift, there’s a contingency plan in place in case not enough money is raised to meet the financial goal. Instead they will establish expanding gifts that can grow over time, Yuen said.

Arts and Science students will be contributing to the renovation of the Red Room in Kingston Hall, which was used during World War II as a military hospital. The committee plans to renovate it as a historical memorial room and establish an ASUS Red Room Award, to be awarded to a graduate. They’re hoping to raise $2,000 to establish the award and start the renovation process, Jeff Warshafsky, one of the ArtSci ThankQ representatives, wrote to the Journal in an e-mail.

“This will cover a plaque to dedicate the room to include a picture and inscriptions. This amount will also cover the cost of future inscriptions for the award we plan for ASUS to give out in future years,” Warshafsky said. “The award will not be monetary but students who win will be recognized for their achievement and their name will be engraved on the plaque in the Red Room.

“We still have not finalized the terms of the award and the criteria for winning but we do know we want it to be for graduating students and to recognize their non-academic achievements.” The Arts and Science ThankQ initiative had raised $619.32 as of March 24, he added. Warshafsky said he couldn’t give a good estimate of the number of donors yet. Last year, Arts and Science had 129 donors.

Warshafsky said there was no voting process for choosing the Red Room renovations gift.

“There was no vote for the class gift,” he said. “Any Arts and Science student is eligible to volunteer for ThankQ and would have input into the gift and fundraising events. … We [Warshafsky and Sheri Krell, ArtSci ’08 vice-president] came up with the idea along with the ThankQ committee and the Advancement Office.”

Yuen said if the ASUS fundraising initiative doesn’t receive enough donations to start both the award and the renovation, all the money will go towards starting the renovation process instead of the award.

This semester, Arts and Science ran a graduate auction. The auction, organized by Warshafsky and Krell, featured a variety of campus personalities offering different activities. Students could bid on prizes such as free tickets to the ASUS formal and a shopping trip with outgoing Rector Johsa Manzanilla, a brown-bag lunch with Principal Karen Hitchcock or lunch at the Tea Room with Dean of Student Affairs Jason Laker. The auction ran for seven days through a Facebook events page.

“We raised $355 in the auction and also some additional money through pure donations,” Warshafsky said.

Rocky Lam, ArtSci ’08, bid and won to have lunch with Kingsley Chak at the Lotus-Heart-Blossom Vegetarian Restaurant. He said he bid on Chak because he knew him personally.

But Lam told the Journal in an e-mail he won’t be giving back to Queen’s anytime soon.

“I think it’s important to continue the traditions and prestige of Queens by giving back to the community. But I do not have the capacity to give back at this present time,” he said. “Although I believe it’s important to give back to continue the reputation and what we have currently … I cannot contribute to the greater community of Queen’s.”

—With files from Lisa Jemison and Anna Mehler Paperny

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