Undergraduate students and both recognized and unrecognized student groups now have access to a fundraising tool for student initiatives through collaborative project Saxa Fund, announced March 3.
A joint project between Students of Georgetown, Inc., the Georgetown University Alumni Student Federal Credit Union and the Georgetown University Student Association, Saxa Fund is billed as a resource to connect the Georgetown community, including alumni, to student initiatives.
Any student or group of students at Georgetown can submit a proposal for a student initiative or project to Saxa Fund and request funding for it. The proposal will then be reviewed by the Saxa Fund Board posted on the platform’s website and marketed to alumni, current students and benefactors for funding.
The Saxa Fund board consists of the GUSA president and vice president, Corp CEO, GUASFCU CEO and three alumni representatives.
GUSA Vice President Chris Fisk (COL ’17) said Saxa Fund provides student groups a new avenue to connect with alumni.
“[Saxa Fund] also streamlines a relationship between current students and alumni, which is incredibly important, especially young alumni, because we are in an amazing and advantageous position to have a good relationship with young alumni because we know some of them,” Fisk said. “They hold near and dear to their hearts what we hold near and dear to our hearts, which is club memberships and common interests from campus life.”
Fisk said Saxa Fund can also help address various funding issues student groups report to GUSA.
“One of the most common complaints we get is regarding student funding and lack of funding for both recognized and unrecognized student groups,” Fisk said. “It was a very easy project for GUSA to sign up to in GUSA’s perspective because it helped with that problem. It helps with that lack of funding, lack of resources, allocated toward student groups.”
Outgoing Corp CEO Taylor Tobin (COL ’17) said the partnership between the three student groups would institutionalize Saxa Fund as a key aspect of community life.
“GUSA is a voice for the students, that’s why it’s important that we partner with them. GUASFCU understands the financial aspects of this and represents another portion of the student body, like The Corp does,” Tobin said. “Together, we are more of a rallying cry. Also, when coming up against any administrative backlash to this project, we are a lot stronger as the three groups instead of just one.”
Outgoing GUASFCU CEO Chris Grillo (SFS ’17) said the challenge the three organizations now face after launching the project relates to marketing and visibility of the new resource.
“The greater challenge going forward is not a technical challenge, but rather a sales and marketing one, which is how we get word out to the alumni community that this site is the portal through which you should be supporting student projects, and to students as well,” Grillo said.
Tobin said The Corp was in a unique position to determine how best to help student organizations, as it experiences similar issues that unrecognized student groups face.
“We are in this weird gray area of being both a business on campus and a student group, so we’re able to see what it’s like to be an unrecognized student group, have trouble with funding and have trouble with the university,” Tobin said. “We understand those different pieces.”
The idea for Saxa Fund originated two years ago from an internal Corp initiative to help fund student projects called Project WhiteBoard, according to Tobin.
“It was just something that two upper management teams had tried to release to the Georgetown community,” Tobin said. “It was started as a way to make fundraising for student groups more accessible.”
Tobin then reached out to Fisk and GUSA in June 2016 and Grillo and GUASFCU in August 2016.
Grillo said Tobin approached him to see if GUASFCU could provide the financial services framework to launch the platform. According to Grillo, Saxa Fund could serve as an improvement on a previous GUASFCU push to recruit both unrecognized and recognized student groups as clients.
“We tried last spring to try some form of financial services for student groups, so we marketed ourselves both to recognized student groups,” Grillo said. “That wasn’t the right pitch at the time and I don’t think it was right because of the fact that it was just more of the same. I think we were looking to break out a little bit, and try something new and a little bit different. So, when this project was raised, we thought about all the possibilities to create excitement and create something new for the student body.”
Currently, Saxa Fund has launched three inaugural projects: a credit building program for low-income students to provide every incoming Georgetown Scholarship Program student a free Credit Builder account, a student-produced film and portable lights for club sports programs to use while Kehoe Field is closed.
Grillo said he expects the community to be excited.
“There is a feeling that there is so much that student groups could do if only they had the financial resources,” Grillo said. “We’re generally excited. What we are doing is pretty historic, getting us three to partner up, because there has been a lot of one-on-one work. To get all three for us to get in the same room and pushing something indicates we could be on the verge of something pretty big.”