By Matt Kupec
Even during these very challenging eight months of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the SIU Foundation has remained open and actively engaged with SIU alumni and donors to fulfill our mission of supporting Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
It hasn’t been easy, but we are pleased with the results.
There have been challenges – no travel to meet with our SIU supporters and cancellation of key events – but that doesn’t mean the Foundation team has gone to the sidelines to wait out the pandemic.
Early on when the doors at Colyer and Kaplan Halls were locked, the Foundation’s remote working strategy was:
- Stay in touch with our alumni and donors with the goal of increasing the number of contacts with our donors.
- Look for fundraising opportunities that were appropriate in these times that have been so difficult for many of our donors and friends.
It has been a great team effort. We have a really talented and hardworking team that has kept its focus on making SIU better. And our SIU alumni and donors have been spectacular during these COVID-19 months. The passion, the love and the pride our alumni and donors have for SIU is inspiring.
The SIU Foundation was one of the first universities out of the gate when the initial lockdown was enforced in March with a campaign to raise money for students in need due to the hardship of the virus. The Saluki Cares Student Emergency Fund was launched to help students without laptops to attend online courses and those in dire need of food and shelter as they lost jobs due to the virus.
SIU alumni and donors responded in a big way! Nearly $280,000 in critical funds were raised to support our students in need. More than 1,200 students were supported. And not one student who needed help was forced to withdraw from school.
On Dec. 1, the Foundation will hold a Virtual Scholarship Dinner, inviting hundreds of scholarship donors to meet with their students via Zoom through individual breakout sessions after hearing remarks from Chancellor Austin Lane. The Scholarship Dinner is typically one of the highlights of the year, bringing donors and students together on our SIU campus for an evening of celebration and thanks.
The Foundation wasn’t going to go to the sidelines and take the year off from hosting the scholarship dinner! No, the creativity and imagination of the team has created this virtual event that will bring hundreds of Salukis to together to celebrate the tradition of Salukis helping Salukis.
And more is yet to come as the Foundation team looks for innovative and creative ways to continue to engage with our donors as the pandemic continues to force changes to our normal programming.
Hopefully at some point soon we will return to normalcy and our alumni and donors will return to the beautiful SIU campus to participate in the spectacular events of this most gorgeous campus. But until then, rest assured the SIU Foundation team will keep working hard and looking to engage alumni and donors to help supporting this great University.