Running turns digital for annual fundraiser

This fall the DePaul Office of Advancement seeks to support students in need through a virtual running Initiative called All for DePaul Fun Run.

For the last couple of months, the annual giving team, and alumni relations, alongside the development and plan giving team have been working to find new and creative ways under the pandemic to keep the DePaul community involved in the annual giving program. In October, one of their initiatives is to support the Students Emergency Assistance Fund (SEAF) through the All for DePaul Fun Run campaign.

“This is the first time we’re doing a virtual run to raise funds so in some ways we were kind of curious to see how our community would respond,” said Sarah Myksin, the director of the annual giving program. The idea of “doing it in a new, different way is to make people feel that they are doing something important to support a great cause.” 

Besides all the major gifts and donations that will go for scholarships or building’s renovations, the annual giving team also relies on individuals’ donations to the institution.

For this year’s campaign, team members are responsible for a big fundraising initiative called Now We Must. The enterprise will support five main areas: scholarships and financial aid, technology access, career readiness, mental health and wellness and the SEAF. 

The Dean of Students Office (DOS) had seen a significant increase in SEAF requests and awards during the 2019-20 year, where 627 students in total had received help. 

“During the spring term alone, the office saw 852 requests and disbursed over $570,000 to 595 individual students,” said Ellen Herion Fingado, DePaul’s dean of students. “The only way the University was able to meet the demand for SEAF, specifically in the spring 2020 term, was through generous donations from the community to this fund.”

 The All for DePaul Fun Run is an opportunity that can help the increasing need of emergency funding for students that struggle to meet their essential needs due to housing issues, job loss, eviction or even a natural disaster. The collective effort of the DePaul community will benefit students in need. And the SEAF is one of the most recognizable ways to do that, according to the annual giving director.

“We know it is a hard time for students right now and that there are students who are trying to stay and finish degrees, that there are students who are working from home with tough Internet connections,” Myksin said. “We know how important experiential learning is specially, when going out on the job market and we want to ensure that those opportunities are still available because there are students who are in crisis, and we’re looking to ensure that they can stay in their homes or that they can feed themselves next week.”

The fun run registration fee is $6 for current DePaul students and $10 for 2020 DePaul graduates. The target is $20,000 with over $6,000 already collected by those who had paid the fee to register. 

Every participant can choose how many miles to add to the collective mileage counter, and among the options are running, biking or walking. When registered, the runners can encourage their networks to support them and everyone can follow the progress that they are making once they link their personal fitness apps to the tracker or by manually entering their miles. 

“We just would really love to have people participate in coming together in doing something important for students in need,” says Caileen Crecco, assistant director of annual giving and the person behind the university’s crowdfunding page, Inspired DePaul. “It’s an easy way to donate because all you have to do is register and then we take care of it on the back.”

There is also an option for purchasing Blue Demons fun run T-shirts, a product between the office advancements and the DePaul athletic department. The idea is people who wear these shirts, no matter where they are, to help raise awareness about the fun run initiative.

“It’s a way to help students in need, stay fit, stay active and kind of show your Blue Demon pride when you’re out,” Myksin said.