NIU students enrolled in PSPA 401 Philanthropy and Volunteerism have applied classroom lessons to making a financial impact on the bottom line of TAILS Humane Society, a nonprofit animal shelter serving DeKalb County.
“My class has worked collaboratively with Change for Change, a nonprofit that educates and mobilizes young people to raise money for local organizations addressing important community needs,” said Alicia Schatteman, professor of public administration.
“Students were divided into teams to research various nonprofits from DeKalb County and then presented their findings to the rest of class. After the presentations, we deliberated each option before deciding which nonprofit we would raise money to assist.”
TAILS Humane Society was selected mainly because of its mission, strong record of service in the community and name recognition among potential donors. To date, the 17 students have raised nearly $300 for TAILS, and they have a second fundraiser in the works.
“TAILS Humane Society is proud to partner with NIU and to be a beneficiary of the ‘Change for Change’ project,” said Beth Drake, executive director of TAILS.
“NIU has always been wonderful to work with, and the Philanthropy and Volunteerism class did a great job with this project” Drake added. “We very much appreciate all their hard work.”
Isabelle Bourgeois, Community Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) major, has acted as a liaison between the class and TAILS. “I have a passion for TAILS and its mission, so I was really excited when our class chose (the animal shelter) for this project,” Bourgeois said.
PSPA 401 is a required course for the CLCE major offered through the Center for NGO Leadership and Development (NGOLD).
“We encourage projects that facilitate student growth through community engagement,” said CLCE Professor Nancy Castle, interim director of NGOLD. “This project not only benefits TAILS, but is also a way for students to merge theoretical concepts with practical experiences.”
The money was raised at an event in NIU’s Martin Luther King Commons. A dog from TAILS was brought in, and the students sold Puppy Chow to raise funds. Up to $400 of the cost associated with promotion of the project is being covered by Research and Engaged Learning funding in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“Many NIU students who love animals aren’t able to have pets while living on campus. Being able to have dogs at our fundraiser attracted a lot of animal lovers,” Bourgeois added. “Creating a fundraiser that is specific to a nonprofit’s mission, as well as the interests of your target audience, is key to a successful event. This project has given me first-hand experience with this.”
The next fundraising event will be held on May 1 at MLK Commons from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A ceremony for students to award TAILS with the money is planned for May 2.
CLCE students Jacob Buckrop and Maria Torres shared their excitement about the project.
“The Change for Change project has been a unique way to involve students cooperatively and competitively for a social cause,” Buckrop said. “Between volunteering at the Salvation Army and participating in fundraising for Change for Change, I have really learned a lot outside of the classroom this semester.”
Torres added, “This has been a tremendous opportunity to learn while experiencing philanthropy and helping a very committed community organization. It’s been a pleasure participating in this project, because it is a good cause, and I know I’m making a difference while getting graduation credits.”
Professor Schatteman expressed her interest in continuing to offer similar opportunities for students.
“We hope this is just the beginning for these types of activities at NIU,” she said. “In fact, we anticipate NIU becoming a permanent local chapter of Change for Change and raising money for other nonprofits in the future.”
by Ben Bingle