Jim Trietsch, senior strategic planner, has given to ACU from every paycheck he has received over the last 25 years.
He said he does not contribute to the university so it can build buildings, but so that students can continue their preparation to change the world.
“In my mind, there’s no other reason to give to the university,” Trietsch said.
The university will be encouraging all 800 faculty and staff to give back in its annual fundraising campaign, Sept. 14-Oct. 4, said Phil Boone, vice president for advancement.
Donations can be designated for a university department, student scholarships or the exceptional fund, which allows the university to use the gift in any area, Boone said. Donors can choose to give a onetime gift or have their monthly donation automatically transferred from paychecks.
The fundraiser aims for each department to reach 100 percent staff and faculty involvement in giving, Boone said. Suggested donations start as low as $1 per paycheck.
“It’s about participation, not about amount,” Boone said. “We wouldn’t want anyone to give if it’s a burden.”
The Department of Advancement is working to reach 100 percent participation before the campaign begins, and the Board of Trustees has already achieved total participation in giving, Boone said.
Administration chose this focus to address the declining participation over the past decade.Â Last year staff and faculty dipped to a low of 42 percent from a high of 81 percent in the 2001-2002 school year.
The downturn of the economy was part of the reason for such low involvement. Another factor was the two-year pay freeze that ended this June.
Rendi Hahn, coordinator of advancement campaigns, said she thought poor communication and a lack of focus on students were the biggest causes for the drop in giving. She said donors should be aware that their gifts are not simply going to an institution.
“It starts by making sure the students are the ones we’re making the case for,” Hahn said. “I hope Maria’s story will be a way to do that.”
ACU alumnus Maria (Rojas) Fernandez is the campaign’s featured student, Hahn said. A first-generation college student, Fernandez earned series of scholarships – many funded by donations -Â that helped get her through her Bachelor’s in business administration in 2007Â and her master’s in higher education in 2009, according to www.acu.edu/maria.
Hahn said Fernandez is now preparing to attend law school because of the support of donors. Fernandez demonstrates how donations from staff and faculty directly benefit students. Every dollar donated is a dollar students do not have to pay in tuition.
“The 21st century vision is a very ambitious plan, and will require a lot of resources,” Hahn said. “We have to do a better job, or there’s going to be a gap.”
But students’ benefits from staff and faculty donations are not only monetary, Hahn said.
“It tells our students that giving is important, and we don’t work here for the paychecks,” Hahn said. “We choose to work here because we believe in what we do.”