In less than half a year since her arrival in January, Grambling State University Vice President for Advancement, Research, and Economic Development Melanie Jones is already leading the institution on its first 1901 Day of Giving, set to be held today.
Grambling’s State University’s 1901 Day of Giving provides an opportunity for GSU alumni, friends and supporters alike to give back to “Dear Old Grambling” in a number of ways simply by going online to invest in the institution.
Donations may be directed toward areas of impact including Presidential Priorities and Academic Excellence, providing critical support for world-class undergraduate teaching, learning, scholarship, the Dean’s Impact (or Excellence) Fund, or to any of GSU’s six colleges, the Digital Library and Learning Commons, the Department of Graduate Studies as well as the World Famed Tiger Marching Band, University Choir, and Athletics.
“I’m excited about the opportunity because there’s so much energy and excitement here,” Jones said. “It’s the promise about Grambling that has yet to be fulfilled that fuels my fire. It’s been extremely exciting and a bit overwhelming that we’re looking to execute this Giving Day before the close of the fiscal year.”
Jones said she is also excited both personally and professionally that we are getting ready to activate an important fundraising campaign that will hopefully build some excitement and momentum around the university and serve in a dual role as a Giving Day and end-of-year appeal. Armed with a focus to create a culture of philanthropy, Jones said this first GSU Day of Giving won’t be the last.
“I think this becomes part of our repertoire as far as our annual fundraising plan,” Jones said. “This is a philanthropic plan based on annual giving to leadership giving to corporate and foundation giving to the university. This is just one of the pieces that are going to be necessary as part of a comprehensive fundraising program.”
Jones said that over the years, fundraising has more and more become the lifeblood of HBCUs like Grambling State.
“As a public institution, we are blessed to have some state resources allocated to help our institution, but at the end of the day what we’re seeing across the board is that funding level continues to decline, even though we’ve had almost a banner year as far as the state budget, it’s still nowhere near the amount of financial resources that any institution needs not only for everyday operations but to achieve next-level greatness,” Jones said. “Fundraising and philanthropy have become a secondary lifeline for these institutions. It’s not only about basic operations but also about how do they reach the level of growth that we see coming out of these philanthropic endeavors?”
Having previously worked as Vice President for College Advancement at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina; Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina; Director of Development and External Affairs at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina; and program manager at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Jones understands the importance of setting up Grambling State’s first Day of Giving to be a success.
“Everyone has a shared interest in the philanthropic outcomes of the institution, and that includes the academic success of our students and programs, and the success of our athletic programs as our student-athletes as just that — athletes and students successful both in their sport and in the classroom,” Jones said. “We all have a shared buy-in in helping grow this institution. Giving back is an area that really takes some defining. Financial gifts are important, and I think it’s important for all alums to do that annually.”
Jones has also drawn from her early career as a high school chemistry teacher while planning for Grambling’s first Day of Giving.
“As a former chemistry teacher, I know what we want and need our outcomes to be,” Jones said. “It’s about making sure we have the right pieces on the left side of the equation so that we can get the yield — the results — that we want on the right side of the equation. We need the right input to get the necessary output.”
Individuals can participate in the 1901 Day of Giving online at gram.edu/givingday.
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