On Nov. 1 – 3, The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation hosted its fourth annual Thank-a-Donor Day, an event inviting scholarship recipients to commune and write thank-you notes to donors.
Donor Engagement and Stewardship Manager Torie Fowler said this event allows donors to connect with those who are receiving the money they gave back to the university.
“Donors really love to be able to have that connection with their scholarship recipient and to know the stories behind their scholarship recipients,” she said.
Fowler said that the event was also a great way for donors to know more about recipients as well as receive appreciation from them.
“It’s the perfect time with Thanksgiving coming around for students to show their gratitude and how much the scholarship truly means to them,” Fowler said. “For some of the students here on campus, scholarships can be life changing so this is a great outlet for them to do this.”
The USM Foundation is an organization that offers more than 850 scholarships for students at the university. According to its website, the foundation is a non-profit organization committed to serving the university community by overseeing fundraising efforts to raise private support for scholarships and other academic needs at Southern Miss.
The scholarship applications is online and user-friendly as it allows students to submit one general application that can match them to hundreds of scholarships.
Foundation Senior Accountant Jennifer Boucher said the program ranges from a variety of selection criteria.
“You don’t have to have a certain GPA or don’t necessarily have financial need,” Boucher said. “Some scholarships are as detailed as being from a specific geographic region or pursuing a particular degree.”
With 55 years and counting, the foundation continues break records in scholarship fundraising. During 2013- 14, the Foundation generated more than $15 million and awarded up to more than $2,000 in scholarships per student.
Scholarship recipient and graduate student Steven Young said that the donor’s scholarships give students who struggle financially the ability to attend
“It is difficult as students to want to be able to deliver all of your time to education when you really don’t have the financial backings,” Young said. “Some people really let their education slip to pick up a part time job on the side. So it’s really important to acknowledge the people that are investing in your education and helping you kind of progress as a scholar.”
The foundation has also reached a recent record-breaking employee participation in giving as well as numerous campaigns.
The USM Foundation website also provides several ways for a donor to give such as through planned gifts, matching gifts, online gifts, tributes and more. “This event is just an amazing way to say thanks in the simplest form,” Young said. “And at some point down the line, you can be the person paying it forward and being a donor for other people.”
To learn more about Foundation scholarships, visit www.usmfoundation.com.