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UNM expands donor campaign

A new campaign, UNM Gives, is encouraging charitable donations and volunteerism within the University community, expanding on its United Way Campaign.

Abra Altman, a strategic support manager at UNM, said that every year the president’s office and the University encourage people to donate money.

Altman said the goal of the new campaign is to encourage giving to the United Way of Central New Mexico and UNM Foundation, as well as highlighting the ways UNM students and staff already support the Albuquerque community through volunteer work.

“You can give back in different ways,” Altman said. “If you can’t do it monetarily you can do it with time. If you don’t have time you can do it monetarily, or you can do both.”

Vanessa Hawker, a strategic advisor for the Health Sciences Center budget office, also worked on the campaign.

She said it was created, in part, because UWCNM made changes to the way it accepts donations.

According to the UNM Gives website, UWCNM forwards the entirety of donors’ gifts to a nonprofit of their choice. However — due to the loss of corporate sponsorships and an increase in community outreach — 10 percent of all donations made through the University is now invested in UWCNM .

Chris Morrison, the director of UWCNM’s workplace campaigns, said United Way and UNM have worked together to support philanthropy for 30 years.

“The day-to-day work that we do just wraps around UNM’s staff and students in a variety of ways,” Morrison said. “That’s why we’re important to each other. UNM has been generous over the years. It’s just a great relationship.”

Morrison said UWCNM has four projects that support the University community directly:

• 211 — a hotline that directs people who need help to whatever agency can help them

• Tax Help New Mexico — provides tax services free of charge for anyone with a household income under $55,000 a year

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• Mission: Graduate — an initiative that works to increase associate and post-high school degrees

• Center for Nonprofit Excellence — A nonprofit that helps make other nonprofits stronger through low-cost workshops and connecting volunteers to organizations

Morrison said UWCNM works in four counties in central New Mexico, and has seven community impact projects planned for this year.

Altman said, especially considering the tight University and state budgets, it’s important to remind people that a few dollars can go a long way.

“Even if you give in a very small way, it still collectively makes a difference,” she said.

Morrison said the ability to donate through payroll deductions is one reason people enjoy giving through United Way.

“By giving just a few dollars out of their paycheck, that accumulates at the end of the year and really goes to help the community, both with their gifts to United Way and with their gifts to other nonprofits. It’s just a really slick and easy way to give,” Morrison said.

Hawker said any UNM employee can donate to United Way directly through their paycheck, but donating via payroll deduction to the UNM Foundation is not yet possible for UNMH, Sandoval Regional Medical Center or UNM Medical Group employees.

Altman said she also thinks people don’t realize that they can give to so many specific parts of the University — such as the Cancer Center, athletics or specific scholarships — through the UNM Foundation.

“Prior to working on this I had heard of the UNM Foundation, but I didn’t realize how easy it is to give back to UNM and how many different places you can choose to give and how targeted your giving can be,” Altman said.

The campaign recently held two kickoff events, where Hawker and Altman said people were grateful to be appreciated for their volunteer work.

So far the campaign has heard from people who do everything, from dressing as superheroes to cheering up children to volunteering at immunization clinics.

“We so often sell ourselves short in what we do to make this a better community, that we thought we might be able to get some bits of information about the superheroes, the animal rescues, the Duke City soccer refs and helping with refugees and say, ‘Hey, here are some of the great things that students, faculty and staff at the University do to help make our community better,” Hawker said.

The organization also keeps track of data concerning the volunteer work of those at UNM, but officials say they still haven’t decided what to do with it.

Hawker said the data is not quantifiable because the campaign is asking about the kinds of activities people do, not measuring time spent volunteering.

Altman said the campaign is currently working with University Communication and Marketing to decide what to do with the information. Since this is the first year they are highlighting volunteerism, the organizers did not know what kind of information they would receive, she said.

The campaign’s website is collecting information on volunteer work and explains how to donate to United Way and the foundation. The campaign is open to feedback and hopes to expand its focus on volunteer work next school year, Altman said.

Cathy Cook is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @Cathy_Daily.

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