During the holiday season, NYU employees band together to give back to the community. The NYU Combined Campaign works to raise thousands of dollars for nonprofit organizations in Greenwich Village and Brooklyn near NYU campuses.
The campaign, which started in early November, is an initiative by NYU to encourage faculty, staff and administrators to give back to their communities. The Combined Campaign consists of the NYU Community Fund, which uses the financial contributions of employees to award small grants to local charities, and fundraising for the United Way of New York City, a holistic organization that focuses on issues such as literacy and education programs in underfunded schools, hunger prevention programs and workforce development.
Director of Civic Engagement Bill Pfeiffer said that the Community Fund has raised about $3 million since it started.
“In any particular year, we raise roughly about $90,000 to $100,000 for the NYU Community Fund,” Pfeiffer said, “And for the United Way last year we actually set a record and we raised a little more than $31,000.”
Pfeiffer said that NYU is one of the few institutions in the Northeast region to raise that much money for the United Way, which receives the funds in quarterly installments.
The NYU Community Fund gives small grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 to roughly 70 charities that specialize in areas from the arts to afterschool STEM programs to elderly care services. Nonprofit organizations who wish to receive financial support from the NYU Community Fund have to fill out an application or request for proposal that gets sent out to over 130 nonprofit affiliates, according to Pfeiffer.
“The committee, as I just mentioned, these are the folks that actually go through each of these proposals and review the request,” Pfeiffer said. “They are charged with looking at the quality of the organization, in terms of how long they have been around, what kind of programming do they offer, what intersections that nonprofit might have with the [committee member’s] individual school, those kinds of things.”
To raise the money for these nonprofit organizations, Pfeiffer organizes a team of 20 to 25 volunteers based in schools, departments, central administration and other offices whose sole focus is to get people to donate to the campaign.
“It’s tough because people generally don’t like to ask for financial support, even though it’s not for them,” Pfeiffer said. “So what I tell my coordinators … is don’t worry about who gives, just go out there and ask because the main reason why people don’t give is because they were never asked.
Pfeiffer said that the school’s civic engagement went beyond the financial contributions the nonprofits received from the campaign.
“These organizations may receive students through [Silver School of] Social Work or students through Steinhardt,” he said. “The [Stern School of Business] or [Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service] may have a capstone program at these organizations. Students might be doing an internship there. Some of our alumni might be working there. It’s kind of a multilayered approach.”
The campaign started in November and lasts until January, during what Pfeiffer calls the season of giving.
“So in early November we kick off the campaign with a university-wide email from Andrew Hamilton, and the campaign is based online so that all the donations go through our website,” he said.
The NYU Combined Campaign tries to give back to the community through as many different organizations as it can so that donors can always feel that their money went to something they care about.
“The mission is focused on ensuring a healthy and vibrant community,” Pfeiffer said.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 4 print edition. Email Jendayi Omowale at [email protected]