Student Philanthropy Board at Auburn University develops nonprofit leaders on campus

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A team of Auburn University students is inspiring others to gain more, give more and love more as part of the Student Philanthropy Board. The Student Philanthropy Board, a student leadership and mentoring initiative supported by the Women’s Philanthropy Board, was first recognized as an official Auburn University student organization in 2015.

Since 2015, the Student Philanthropy Board has been making an impact on both members and nonmembers by awarding annual grants to other on-campus organizations' philanthropies; presenting the annual East Alabama Nonprofit Employee of the Year Award; organizing supply drives for victims of natural disasters; attending the Women’s Philanthropy Board Spring Symposium and Luncheon; and volunteering with local nonprofit organizations. As members of the Student Philanthropy Board, students explore philanthropic engagement, nonprofit leadership and community involvement.

“Being a part of the Student Philanthropy Board has opened my eyes to a new field that needs more manpower and more recognition,” said board member Kirklin McWhorter. “While I am a biochemist, I believe that the organization has helped me to understand what it means to be a volunteering member of a community, as opposed to a working member. I believe it is our duty to commit our time to those who may need it, even if just a little, and I believe that the Student Philanthropy Board has been perfect in embodying that while I've been a part of it.”

In 2011, the Women’s Philanthropy Board funded a class that inspired the philanthropy and nonprofit studies minor to Auburn University to allow students to receive academic credit for their interest and exploration in philanthropic engagement. However, one of the missions of the Student Philanthropy Board is to start increasing the presence of philanthropists and nonprofit leaders on campus in addition to exploring philanthropic engagement.

“I’m excited to offer students more opportunities to network with nonprofit leaders, and to start some long-term partnerships with nonprofit organizations on campus such as the Braveheart Center for Place and Purpose, a comprehensive health and wellness program that supports and enhances social skills, cognitive skills, self-esteem, creativity, and work skills for young adults with developmental disabilities facing moderate to severe life challenges,” said Mary Elizabeth Fukai, the advisor of the Student Philanthropy Board.

The Student Philanthropy Board also provides students with opportunities to gain knowledge and skills for future service as nonprofit professionals or philanthropists.

“For students who are planning to work for a nonprofit, the Student Philanthropy Board can be a powerful resource providing grant writing experience, volunteer opportunities and networking prospects,” said Fukai.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.