Up for a challenge? Match the gift

April 05, 2006, volume 35, no. 7

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Half a million dollars is a splendid gift by any measure. It's even more impressive when you learn it represents the combined efforts and contributions of Simon Fraser's faculty, staff and retirees.

Their gifts, with matching funds from the Burnaby Mountain endowment, raised almost $500,000 last year for scholarship, bursary and award endowments. (That translates to about $22,500 in new, annual student support.)

This year's campus campaign, running to June 30, is aiming even higher. Jonathan Driver, dean of graduate studies and chair of the campaign, and Wanda Dekleva, director of annual giving, are visiting  faculties to explain the importance of giving. “Everyone benefits,” says Driver. “More students can afford to come to SFU and faculties have the resources to attract and retain the best students.”

The prospect of matching money for your gift is a great incentive (and it's available for pledges over three years, notes Dekleva). Faculties raising a minimum of $50,000 are matched, creating $100,000-plus endowments to aid their students.

New departmental awards can be launched with $20,000 in contributions. Last year the leadership of Tony Williams in biological sciences and Greg Dow in economics prompted the generosity of department colleagues. There's now an endowed biosciences undergraduate research award. “This award is good for students, and it is good for us,” says Williams. “It attracts attention to our honours program and introduces students to research opportunities.”

In economics, faculty and staff members also liked the opportunity to leverage matching funds, says Dow. “They are generous and really do support students. The economics student award fund will ensure outstanding academic achievement is honoured and respected.”

Dekleva adds, “Many people in the SFU community want to make a difference for students. This campaign is about letting them know of the opportunity and showing them how easy it is to give.”

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