Student group aims to raise awareness about giving to UI

Student group aims to raise awareness about giving to UI

URBANA — No, Foellinger Auditorium is not for sale.

The big orange tags in front of that building and others around the Quad are a thank-you from University of Illinois students to donors who have made a UI education possible, said junior Katie Chan.

Chan is president of the 1867 Society, created five years ago (and named for the UI's founding year) to raise student awareness about philanthropy to the UI.

Donors and alumni have given billions for buildings, programs, scholarships and endowments over the years, including $2.43 billion in the recently concluded Brilliant Futures campaign.

Chan said students can do their share, too.

The society has an "1867 Society Fund" that raises more than $1,000 a year from student donations and puts the money toward programs targeted at students.

Last year $1,400 went to the Illinois Leadership Center, which provides leadership seminars for students. Previous gifts have benefited the Undergraduate Library and a student informatics group that is working, among other things, on a GPS campus mapping system.

Students frequently ask Chan why they should donate to the UI after paying $14,500 and up in tuition and fees each year.

Chan says tuition covers only a portion of the cost of educating students, with the university relying more and more on private giving.

The Business Instructional Facility, where Chan spends much of her time, "wouldn't be here without donors," she said.

Gifts don't have to be large — student gifts typically range from $5 to $20 a semester — but combining them has a huge impact, she said. Last year donors who gave gifts of $100 or less provided more than $1.8 million to the campus, the group says.

The society typically brings in 50 new donors to the 1867 Fund each year, Chan said, but hundreds of students also give to their own college or other departments on campus.

The society also wants to encourage students to give after they graduate, as UI alumni, Chan said.

As part of Philanthropy Awareness Week, members of the group have been out on the Quad this week asking students to appear in a video or sign a card thanking donors for providing resources toward their education.

The orange tags were placed on buildings and other landmarks that were built or renovated with money from donors, including Foellinger, which received a major renovation in 1983 courtesy of alumna Helene Foellinger.

Also tagged is Noyes Laboratory, where donors paid for numerous upgrades over the years (though the current $22.9 million renovation is being funded in part by student fees).

Others include the Altgeld tower chimes, a gift from the graduating classes of 1914-1921; Carl Milles "Diana Fountain" on the west side of the Illini Union, a gift from the class of 1921; and the courtyard of the newly restored Lincoln Hall, where the names of donors who provided money for student scholarships are engraved on stones, benches and tables.

The organization's Facebook page has more information on the buildings tagged as part of this week's campaign.

The 1867 Society works under the Illinois Annual Giving Office with support from the chancellor's office and the University of Illinois Foundation.

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