To drive home his message to university leaders to spread the word about the need for charitable giving, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee referenced the recent and highly publicized visit to the United States by Pope Francis.
“His single message was to help others… to help others that are in great need,” McPhee told a Monday gathering of deans, top administrators and staff inside the Student Union Ballroom to kick off the university’s annual Charitable Giving Campaign, which runs Oct. 1 to Nov. 1.
“It’s an investment,” McPhee continued. “It’s an investment that can change lives.”
With just over $119,000 pledged by MTSU employees last year, this year’s goal of $120,000 will be championed under a campus theme of “#trueGIVER” in conjunction with a Tennessee Board of Regents theme of “Jump into Giving.”
But more than the dollar amount, McPhee stressed his hope that the university’s percentage of participation will increase significantly this year among the campus’ roughly 2,200 full-time employees.
The payroll deduction option is again available and “is a very cost effective way of making your gift,” noted campaign chair Dr. Gloria Bonner, assistant to the president in the Office of Community Engagement. Bonner reminds 2015 donors that their contribution doesn’t automatically roll over into the new year, so a new pledge form must be filled out. Donations can be made online at http://www.mtsu.edu/givemtsu/.
Stephanie Folkmann, director of development for Special Kids and a 2005 MTSU graduate, was among the nonprofit representatives on hand for the campus kickoff. She noted that such giving campaigns allow Special Kids to offer its therapy and nursing services to families on a more affordable sliding scale.
“We have many patients who struggle to afford normal medical services,” Folkmann said. “So funds that are raised through campaigns like this … help us fill in the gaps for those families and help us continue to serve those families.”
Folkmann said her organization’s partnership with MTSU runs deep, with student interns gaining valuable hands-on experience by volunteering at the Christian-based agency. Faculty also get involved, with a small group of faculty and students from the mechatronics program within the Department of Engineering Technology recently visiting the agency to modify several battery-operated vehicles to make them safer and more accessible to children served by Special Kids.
“When (donors) make an investment, they’re not just investing in someone in need, they’re investing in the community where they live and work,” she said.
Among other nonprofits organizations in attendance Monday were the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Greenhouse Ministries, Community Shares, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services and Interfaith Dental Clinic. There are 140-plus nonprofits that employees can choose from to direct their donations.
University colleges will again have the extra incentive of trying to wrestle the Provost Cup from the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, which is going for a three-peat as the college with the highest rate of participation. Provost Brad Bartel launched the cup competition two years ago as a way to inject some friendly competition for a great cause.
Bartel reminded the crowd that although Murfreesboro and the Midstate area has a high quality of life, the community is by no means immune to issues such as domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, drug abuse and lack of access to medical care.
“Humanity is all about altruism,” said Bartel, who previously served on the local United Way board. “We need to give back … Every society on the face of the earth is judged by how well they treat people who are less fortunate.”
With the shiny Provost Cup in hand Monday, Jones College Dean David Urban told the group that he’s visited with numerous companies and organizations in the area such as Nissan and Bridgestone who have robust giving campaigns with high participation.
“The leadership in the organization, they buy in to doing this and they reinforce the message,” he said, adding that sharing the stories of how area nonprofits help employees can provide powerful incentives for fellow employees to participate as well.
United Way CEO and MTSU alumna Meagan Flippin thanked MTSU for embracing the opportunity to “set such an example for our community by improving lives by so many programs and services represented here today.”
Anyone with questions about the campaign should contact Allison McGoffin in the Office of the Provost at 615-898-2953.
What to know
· Donations pledged for calendar year 2015 will not automatically continue into the new year.
· Each year you are given an opportunity to change your contributions or to renew an existing one by submitting a new pledge form.
· Donations can be as little as $1 per month or $5 one-time (January 2016 paycheck).
· If everyone gives $55, only $4.55 per month, we can reach our goal of $120,000.
· Your contribution to one of the 140+ organizations helps your co-workers and neighbors in communities surrounding the University — and others statewide.
· The online form may be used for those not able to give but wishing to log their participation.