Crowdfunding the Beach

BY: VICTOR ROSS SIEV

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New buildings and hardware for students are one of the many changes taking place at Cal State Long Beach under the DECLARE campaign, to reshape CSULB into the campus of tomorrow. CSULB was once a state-supported institution, whereby the university received financing from the state government. Due to the recession, CSULB became one of the many Calif. colleges to receive a 30% cut from state funding. Thus, the DECLARE campaign began as a way for the Long Beach community and alumni to support the college.

“This campaign is really our way of helping to defer costs...so they don’t get added to our students’ and our future students’ tuition,” said Adam Goduto, the executive director of annual and special giving for CSULB.

The DECLARE campaign is sectioned into three pillars: transformational, unequaled access, and a greater community.  Each of these pillars seek to improve the quality of the campus through creating different academic centers, helping students earn their degree in a timely manner, and creating new buildings and renovations.

The campaign began in private, starting in 2007.  Like most fundraisers, it remained private until the finances reached a certain amount so it could go live in order to make that final push toward the goal.  While most campaigns last seven to eight years, the campaign was extended to the end of 2015 thanks to the recession at the time.

“This was our first campaign, and we really had to orient the campus community into what a campaign was,” said Andrea Taylor, vice president for university relations and development for CSULB.  “Probably the biggest challenge was that we launched this campaign right in the heart of the recession, so it was very difficult to raise money during that time because everybody was struggling – obviously.” Andrea Taylor is also the creator of the DECLARE campaign.

The campaign was made public in 2013.  Its goal is to raise $225 million, and as of Feb. 28, 2015, $213.4 million has been raised.

To make that push, CSULB began to publicize the campaign throughout various forms of media from magazines sent to alumnus, videos, special events, and advertising on the campus shuttles. The promotional campaign is becoming a huge success as there are currently 87,000 donors, of which 29,000 are alumni donors.

“It’s really important that this university adopt a culture philanthropy,” said Taylor.

Successful alumni such as the Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg, actor and comedian Steve Martin; and Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor all have graduated from CSULB.

As part of the promotional campaign, students and staff can declare what they hope to attain as a part of the CSULB community.

People interested in participating in the crowdfunding campaign can contribute to CSULB’s Beach Fund, which helps allocate donations to specific areas within the college.  Donors can choose what the money can help fund. They can donate to a specific college within the university, a college scholarship fund, a sports team, a different organization, or to the general fund. The general fund partially finances student resources, which include the tutoring center, the writer’s resource lab, and the library.

Beach Fund helps to promote more parent involvement with the campus. The parents fund sets aside money for parents who want to be engaged in various events on campus, such as watching baseball games at Blair Field or eating lunch with their kids on campus.

“A lot of parents come on move-in day at the dorms and then they come again on graduation day,” said Sarah Len, the lead supervisor at the Beach Fund call center. “The majority of the money for that allocation in the parents funds would go toward a family weekend where they’re actually able to come down here and are able to be more involved with the university.”

The I Declare promos focus more upon individuals within the campus community who are readily active in attaining their declaration.  From a dancer who is working toward the newly introduced dance major to a professor aiming to get better equipment to study sharks, the campaign focuses on the community.

With the fundraiser well underway, millions of the donated money has already gone toward academic programs, scholarships, new equipment for labs, and community-related projects that involves creating the alumni center and renovations for the athletic fields.  One particular program funded by the campaign is the Student Emergency Fund, which as the name implies, helps finance students in dire financial situations.

“The goal of the Student Emergency fund is to provide for students who have maximized their financial aid for this semester, and if they have an emergency arise and an emergency expense, such as if they lost their job and it will take a couple weeks before they get [another job],” said Goduto. “How will they eat?”

“It’s really cool, it’s advocating for the students,” said Len. “It’s another fund that we promote with our parent campaign so it’s kind of a new thing and we’re supporting that through crowdfunding as well.”

Any additional donations exceeding DECLARE’s $255 million goal will fund facilities such as the athletics department, the quality of the faculty, and construction of new buildings dedicated to the alumni. The alumni facility still seek more financial support in order for the project to move into production.

Already nearing the goal and with no end in sight, DECLARE aims to improve the welfare of CSULB students by helping them with tuition, education, and providing a better roadmap for their own future.