Day of Giving brings the ‘human touch’ to Aztec fundraising

This year’s campaign, held in March, raised more than $212,000 for programs

Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Four students, all wearing some type of SDSU gear, stand shoulder-to-shoulder on a campus path. Behind them is an open, green recreation field.
The annual Day of Giving at SDSU includes numerous funds providing scholarships and other direct benefits to students.

From its support of the SDSU Basic Needs Center to mental health and wellness services and career readiness, the Aztec Parents Fund aims to bolster initiatives at San Diego State University that deliver direct benefits to students.

Financed entirely from donations, the fund is seen as a partnership with parents and families to support student success. Residential education, the Jeffrey W. Glaser Center for Leadership & Service ― even the University Police Department’s K-9 unit ― all have received Aztec Parents Fund grants.

Those emerged as popular causes in this year’s Day of Giving at SDSU, held March 12. The annual campaign, conducted mostly via email with contributions made online, raised just over $212,000 from 1,401 donors. Of that, more than $16,300 was earmarked for the Aztec Parents Fund. 

“To me it means a lot that our parents and families are investing in student success through this fund,” said Francisco Velasquez, director of New Student and Parent Programs. “It means that we’ve been able to establish a partnership with our families, showcasing that they make a difference for students on our campus and that they really do contribute to student success.”

SDSU Alumni staff say planning an initiative can take months but seeing the impact, especially on students, can strongly influence contributors. 

“When our generous donors see firsthand the impact of their contributions on students—be it through scholarships, vital resources, or innovative programs — it fosters a sense of connection and compassion,” said Stephanie Dathe, executive director of SDSU Alumni. 

The Cap & Gown Fund, which sponsors commencement regalia and supports professional development opportunities for graduates who become SDSU Alumni lifetime members, was another easily relatable target, drawing more than $23,600 on this year’s Day of Giving. Scholarships, athletics, the Courage Through Cancer Fund, the Special Collections and University Archives section of the library, and community service initiatives such as the BrightSide Produce are among the 127 specific contribution targets selected by donors.

For the Aztec Parents Fund, a parents’ advisory board makes recommendations on grant applications to receive a share of the fund for each fiscal year. Last year, Velasquez said, more than $60,000 was available for awards, still rebuilding from a pandemic-era dip; this year should be closer to $90,000 by the time June 30 rolls around.

In framing this year’s Day of Giving campaign, the alumni organization collaborated with campus partners to identify fundraising priorities and spotlighted stories where financial support made an important difference.

Sam Brown (‘96), president of the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors, said such an approach makes perfect sense.

“There’s a human touch to supporting students,” said Brown, who learned a lot about the value of community growing up on a reservation. And as a parent himself, he knows the feeling of comfort for a student who “can think about school and not worry about anything else.”

“The parents are not only supporting their own students, they’re supporting students much like their children (that) need that support,” he said.

So did Brown himself contribute to this year’s Day of Giving?

“Oh yes,” he said ― for the SDSU Alumni internship program.

To support one or more of your favorite programs on campus, contact Stephanie Dathe, [email protected]

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