A month of generosity

This 30-day fundraiser spotlights the Smith Renaissance Society, People’s Media Advocacy Asia, the Undergraduate Research Fund for Science and Engineering, the Everett Program, the Randall Morgan Collections and Natural History Initiative, and other worthy causes.


Last spring, Giving Day – a 24-hour online giving fest – raised more than $520,000 for an array of important projects at UC Santa Cruz.

Emboldened by that success, Giving Day’s organizers have created a brand-new program called Fall Into Philanthropy, a month-long fundraising drive infused with the same spirit of generosity and community.

“Crowdfunding is a powerful tool, teaching people about the culture of philanthropy,” said Jenna Hurley, Assistant Director of Annual Giving at UC Santa Cruz. “Giving Day was more of a competition. This month-long approach will give people more time to network, to do social media and email campaigns. It will be a lot more drawn out, giving more people a chance to get engaged.”

The campaign, which kicked off on October 16, and ends on November 15, puts the spotlight on the following programs:  Smith Renaissance Society, which supports UC Santa Cruz’s community of non-traditional students; People’s Media Advocacy, Asia (PMAA), supporting graduate student research to assist in worker’s rights in Asia; the Undergraduate Research Fund for Science and Engineering, which support awards and scholarships for future student success; the Everett Program, empowering students to work in solidarity with community-based organizations; the Randall Morgan Collections and Santa Cruz Natural History Initiative, supporting student stipends for internships; and “Areas of Greatest Need,” which includes Alumni Association Scholarships, Undergraduate Scholarships, Slug Support, and the UC Santa Cruz Fund.

Fall Into Philanthropy has a different pace than Giving Day, which was a nail-biting, non-stop give-fest, with friendly competition and donation surges up to the last minute. This time, the cycle is more gradual, but the full month of giving will allow the target groups to set ambitious goals. For instance, the Smith Renaissance Society’s goal for the thirty-day campaign is to raise $10,000.

Shawn Cervantes (Oakes, ’13, psychology), lead volunteer for development at Smith Renaissance, explained that this fundraising goal is part of an ongoing larger campaign that launched in July. A generous door put up $100,000 for the society and asked the organization to match that. “We were able to match her $100,000 in a matter of weeks with only three donors,” Cervantes said.

The new goal is to try and match the $200,000, allowing for a total endowment of $400,000 to be established for future students. All funds will go to the Page and Eloise Smith Scholarship Endowment Fund.

The Smith Society’s mission is to create cross-generational community that provides academic, personal, social and financial support to UC Santa Cruz students who lack the traditional family support afforded to most of their peers.  Typically, these students have had adverse childhood experiences including, but not limited to, neglect, abuse, abandonment, or homelessness.  Students may identify as being current or former foster youth, wards of the court, runaways, orphans, children of incarcerated parents, or children of parents with severe mental illness.

Fall Into Philanthropy is also shining a spotlight on the Endowment For Undergraduate Research and Technology. To kick off fundraising efforts supporting undergraduate research, Hierarchical Systems Research Foundation (HSRF), founded by David Doshay (B.A. ‘83, physics; M.S. ’90), contributed $100,000, in the hopes that community members would step up and give the same amount. First-time donors at all levels will be matched two to one, while donations from those who have already contributed will be matched 1 to 1.

This is only the latest example of HSRF doing its part to boost research on campus; the foundation has helped 130 undergraduate and graduate students since 2004.

Another featured project, the Randall Morgan Collections and Santa Cruz Natural History Initiative, commemorates a legendary local naturalist who worked with the Kenneth S. Norris Center For Natural Historyy over the last 15 years.  His collections of over 90,000 specimens, his knowledge of the county's biodiversity, and his tireless advocacy for local conservation have all had enormous impacts on the Santa Cruz naturalist community and the protected habitats found throughout Santa Cruz County, including some habitats that can be found in the 2,000-acre wooded campus.

Before he died, Morgan and some of his friends wrote up an initiative to carry on his legacy by preserving his collections and providing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research focusing on sensitive species and habitats. The long-term goal is to raise $1 million to add to the endowment.  In the more immediate time frame, supporters hope to raise $100,000 to fund the first two years of the initiative. This month, supporters hope to raise $6,000 toward that goal, providing student stipends to work as interns helping to curate Morgan’s collection and work in the field on research projects focused on local conservation issues. 

The month-long Fall Into Philanthropy project is a great way for these projects and organizations to get their names out there and increase community impact.  Visit the crowdfunding site to learn more about the campaigns and support projects and see their running tally of donations.