By James Alan Fox and Rebecca Riccio
In the spirit of the Empower Campaign, Northeastern University’s most ambitious fundraising campaign to date, CSSH faculty and staff put their money where their aspirations are last month during a college-wide campaign.
CSSH faculty and staff displayed how deeply invested in the university’s future they are by tripling their giving participation rate over the two-week campaign. The college’s 23% participation rate, which spans across all 16 of the college’s academic units, is second-highest among all of the day colleges.
So how did we do it? The formula of success involved the simple fact that we believe in what we do as faculty and staff at this university, as well as in the students whom we empower every day.
We launched the internal campaign on a Monday morning last month by placing an Empower cookie in the campus mailboxes of each faculty and staff member. Haley House, a local bakery whose mission is to empower the community and provide a workplace for men and women facing significant barriers to employment, supplied the sweets for our launch. What could be a more perfect match than a local organization with a strong belief in community impact paired with a campaign focused on creating long-lasting impact for the university community?
Our campaign continued as we shared with our colleagues why we feel it’s important to give. Jamie, whose three children all graduated from Northeastern with very positive experiences, has made gifts to the organizations on campus that made the largest impact on his children’s education. Rebecca, who is a philanthropy educator, is confident that through private gifts, CSSH will be able to reach a whole new level of achievement.
Our students also spoke up. They told us about the ways in which Northeastern has empowered them, including their faculty members who provided support and mentoring, the global opportunities that gave them new perspectives, and the co-op program that provided them with confidence.
As further incentive, each of the first 25 gifts during the campaign received a matching gift thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. We also added an element of healthy competition: the departments or programs with the highest rate of participation received a financial gift to spend on an activity or item of the unit’s choosing.
We announced the winners of this departmental competition at the college’s annual year-end faculty celebration. The results were close! The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs took top prize among all of our units with 20 or more faculty and staff, while the American Sign Language Program won the honor out of the units with fewer than 20 faculty and staff.
However, we have all won. This campaign brought out a sense of confidence and community for us. Many of these gifts will go towards resources for our departments, empowering our aspirations and those of our students, while additional gifts will go toward the many other causes around the university, such as scholarship and co-ops funds, or one of the athletics programs. The faculty or staff member behind each one of these gifts selected a fund that represented something that they love. And here at Northeastern, there are many things to love.
James Alan Fox and Rebecca Riccio are faculty chairs of the Empower CSSH Campaign. Fox is the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy, and Riccio is the director of the Social Impact Lab.