Podcast: Student Philanthropy at Appalachian State University

DeveloFundraising-Voices-logo220ping a culture of philanthropy on campus is important. Appalachian State University knows this, and students are passionate about it. I learned this over the summer at the CASE Conference for Student Advancement, where I met Aaron Galliher and Summer Wisdom.

Aaron is a senior and the president of App S.T.A.T., Appalachian Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow.  The name says it all–the mission is to help students embrace a lifetime relationship with the institution, something that we know as fundraisers is absolutely crucial.

Take a listen to this interview with Aaron and Summer. You’ll hear two things. The first is that a student can be incredibly passionate about philanthropy, as well as organized, mission-focused and ready for action. You’ll also hear that the commitment from great advisors like Summer help this energy translate into real success on campus, and that engaging a team on campus really fuels success.appstate_aaron_summer

appalachian state

One thing that Aaron and Summer describe in the interview is “I Heart App” day and some of the great events they help organize to showcase the message of alumni and donor involvement. Check out some of these images of how a campus can be brought alive with the message of philanthropy.

iHearApp Week tag advertising 2

Student Philanthropy Week 2014 Banner 11 X 17

You’ll also hear Aaron talk about snow cones. That’s right–snow cones. This unique way of engaging and then educating a passing student about the funding needed to make the University experience possible really impressed me.

tuition snow cone cup

We really do have to remember that our students are not going to understand where private support fits in unless we take the time to explain, and when we have students engaged on campus is the best time to do this. In addition, Aaron and Summer make great points about listening to students for new ideas to keep your program fresh and interesting.

What are you doing to engage students and make philanthropy and the support of donors a part of the student experience? To get started, check out the CASE ASAP Network, It’s a great resource. Then, start asking students what they think. You don’t have to look far for help in introducing new ideas. As Appalachian State has shown over decades, students can be your best ambassadors.


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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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