By Lauren Ceronie and Samantha Callender, Editor in Chief and Staff Writer

As the Class of 2012 prepares for May 5, the day all seniors will become Miami University alumni, students are being encouraged to start giving back to the university through the Senior Class Gift. This year’s seniors have been quite generous to Miami, donating over $16,000 so far, according to Brad Bundy, interim vice president of university advancement.

The number of people who have donated to the Senior Class Gift has increased by 31 percent while the amount of money given has increased by 150 percent from this time last year, according to Bundy.

The Senior Class Gift Committee, part of a student-run campaign called the Senior Class Gift, hosts and participates in events across campus to encourage seniors to donate to the Miami community. The 25-person committee is organized into chairs and members that market, program and campaign the initiative that is housed in the Office of Annual Giving.

Katie Stango, graduate assistant for student engagement and giving, said the overall goal of the Senior Class Gift is to start cultivating the spirit of alumni donating, starting with seniors.

“Seniors are encouraged to donate $20.12 [to commemorate their graduation year] to any designation of their choice,” Stango said. “For the past few years we have primarily fundraised for the Armstrong Student Center along with the opportunity to donate to a class scholarship to benefit future Miamians.”

Members of the Senior Class Gift Committee hope to have every senior make their gift of $20.12 by graduation.

The committee used events such as homecoming, men’s basketball games, Charter Day Ball and the Spring Internship and Career Expo (ICE) to target seniors.

The committee collected the most donations at this year’s GradFest.

“We usually get our highest number of gifts at this event – this year was no exception,” Stango said.

The committee has not set an overall goal for fundraising this year, according to Caroline McClellan, assistant director of annual giving.

“We didn’t start out with a [monetary] goal,” McClellan said. “The goal is increasing participation every year.”

GradFest attracts thousands of seniors because they need to purchase caps, gowns and other items to prepare for graduation; many seniors willingly made a contribution to the Senior Class Gift.

Senior Robin Beavers said she chose to donate to The Senior Class Gift at GradFest.

“I donated to help ensure that the same multifaceted experience I was able to encounter could be continued on a greater scale of betterment in the classes that follow,” Beavers said.

Seniors have the option of choosing departments or specific ventures their donations fund. Class scholarships and academic departments are a few options seniors can choose from and this year seniors also have the option of securing naming rights in the Armstrong Student Center through a special donation.

If seniors donate, their contribution can be made in payments that can span over four years.

“A $200 gift [minimum for naming rights], which amounts to less than $5 a month, is a great opportunity for parents of seniors to give a lasting graduation gift,” Stango said.

As the year winds down and the opportunity to donate slims, seniors have the opportunity to give online at  www.muohio.edu/SeniorClassGift.

Miami alumna Lisa Butts said donating through the Senior Class Gift is an excellent way to cultivate alumni donations.

“I donated to my Senior Class Gift and still donate to this day,” Butts said. “I would encourage any senior to donate, even if it is this one time, just to give a little back to the place that’s gives you so much through four years and beyond.”

Stango said the Senior Class Gift Committee’s overall goal is to have all graduating seniors participate in donating at least $20.12 and to continue making contributions as proud alumni.

“As soon-to-be alumni, seniors should think about giving back now since Miami has given so much to them over the past four years,” Stango said.

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