Across the nation, people are tightening their purse strings and watching their budgets, but that didn’t stop USC faculty members from donating to the Good Neighbors Campaign, which raised more money this year than ever.
Begun in 1993 by President Steven B. Sample, the Good Neighbors Campaign is an annual internal fundraising campaign that asks USC faculty and staff to donate a portion of their paychecks to support programs that benefit local communities.
During its 15-year history, the Good Neighbor Campaign has donated over $11 million and supported more than 365 organizations.
This year, while participation rates dropped from 49 percent to 39 percent, the average value of the donations increased, leading to a record-breaking $1.2 million total.
USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, the two newest members of the Trojan Family, brought in the most donations of any administrative unit with $55,731. The USC Keck School of Medicine raised $124,344, the largest amount of any academic unit.
Cesar Armendariz, director of the Health Sciences Campus Community Outreach, said acquiring two new hospitals this year brought in a new group of donors.
“The Good Neighbors Campaign was a good way for them to feel part of the family and get involved,” he said.
Armendariz also acknowledged Carmen Puliafito, dean of the Keck School of Medicine, for setting the tone for the entire campaign and urging people to participate from the outset.
“He stressed that we should do it and was passionate about the importance of academic leadership in the HSC,” Armendariz said.
As a result, there was a concentrated effort across the board from all different levels — administrators, nurses and doctors. The USC Health Science Campus saw high participation levels, with many employees donating small amounts.
Armendariz said the Good Neighbors Campaign tremendously benefits the local community, and participation and donations from the Health Science Campus will only increase year by year, as people see where the money goes and how it improves the lives of others.
Though participation was down overall, one academic unit — the USC Rossier School of Education — had 100 percent participation. Six additional administrative units also had perfect participation.
Kimberly Hirabayashi, assistant professor of Clinical Education at Rossier and a faculty representative for the Good Neighbors Campaign, said the key to Rossier’s success was fundraising early in the year.
“People are busy, and it is really helpful to start early,” she said. “We encourage people to renew their contribution in August.”
Faculty members at Rossier were also encouraged to participate in weekly events such as silent auctions and bake sales.
Tom Sayles, vice president of government and community relations, came to USC last year and headed the campaign for the first time this year. He said the Good Neighbors Campaign is an exceptional effort.
“No one takes on such a monumental task every year to benefit their neighborhoods,” Sayles said in a press release. “The generosity of the Trojan Family is unprecedented, and, during these tough economic times, this effort speaks volumes about USC’s commitment to improving the lives of our neighbors.”
This year, the money raised will help bring theater, music, fine arts, violence-prevention programs, science and health-education mentoring and counseling to various local schools. These programs allow USC’s diverse academic schools to help local students realize their full potential.