As Phil Day launches, students now know who “Phil” is

BY CINDY GARCIA | APRIL 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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As the fourth-annual philanthropy celebration approaches, officials and students see more effects from the event than when it first began.

This year’s Phil’s Day festivities, set to occur today, will include postcard signings to send thank-yous to donors, the tagging of buildings and programs made possible by donor donations, and the visit of guest speaker and philanthropy contributor Jerre Stead at the IMU. Stead is the executive chairman of IHS Inc.

The University of Iowa Foundation is amid a philanthropy campaign called For Iowa. Forever More. The campaign aims to raise $1.7 billion by December 2016. It has raised $1.458 billion so far with more than 180,000 donors.

“We’re running about 6 percent ahead of where we should be, so we feel good about our progress toward that goal,” UI Foundation President Lynette Marshall said.

Marshall, who has been the foundation president since August 2006, has spearheaded a number of philanthropy initiatives, including Phil’s Day, which was launched in 2012.

“I believe that it’s important for students who are going to be leaders in their community after graduation to have an appreciation for philanthropy and understand what it means,” she said.

Marshall said the biggest change in Phil’s Day is its growth, with more places to sign postcards, more colleges becoming involved, and more donors interacting with the UI, and through op-eds in The Daily Iowan.

The growth is also translating numerically. Marshall said surveys conducted every other year indicate 46 percent of students are now familiar with philanthropy.

Faculty are becoming increasingly involved in theFor Iowa. Forever More. campaign.

In fiscal 2014, 3,028 UI faculty and staff gave gifts totaling nearly $4.5 million. Faculty and staff also benefit from philanthropy, with 221 faculty members holding positions provided by support from donors.

There are currently three co-heads for We Are Phil faculty and staff giving program. They provide support and encouragement for faculty and staff to donate.

“The campaign for faculty and staff is usually held in the fall, but staff are encouraged to support philanthropy efforts throughout the year,” said Joni Troester, the director for human resources services and a We Are Phil faculty and staff co-head. “The number of people who are donating each year increases, which just shows how committed people are to giving to the University of Iowa and supporting the University of Iowa.”

Students have benefited from philanthropy as well.

Privately funded scholarships went to 2,587 students last year. The Student Philanthropy Group was launched in 2007 and currently has 30 members.

Anthony Lehnertz, a UI student and the president of the Student Philanthropy Group, said he has seen definite signs that awareness has grown in the student population.

“I actually do believe there is an increase,” he said. “For starters, one easy way to tell is our Student Philanthropy Group has doubled in size since I’ve been involved. It seems that a lot more people know what Phil Day is and it’s really good to see.”

However, the effect of growing philanthropic awareness on campus may take more time to reap.

“One thing that’s kind of tough with awareness of philanthropy is we probably won’t see a huge impact until five or ten years down the line when students that are becoming aware today have the monetary ability to give back to the University of Iowa,” Lehnertz said. “I think we’re going to see an increase in philanthropy support, as state appropriations continue to decrease.”

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