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OSU crowdfunding platform creates new possibilities for campus

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

There are hundreds of clubs, organizations and projects across the Oklahoma State University campus, and many could use extra assistance.

PhilanthroPete is here to help them thrive.

OSU’s online crowdfunding platform, PhilanthroPete, gives the Cowboy family an opportunity to participate in collective giving that supports campus programs, faculty research and more.

Donor support allows these groups to give the best possible experience to its members, and many projects also benefit OSU and the Stillwater community as a whole. Any academic department, campus unit or student organization can apply to be a part of PhilanthroPete.

“PhilanthroPete has a place for everyone, whether you are an established organization or a new club that is just starting up,” said Adrian Matthys, assistant vice president of annual giving. “There are so many amazing things going on at OSU that the general public doesn’t even know exist. I’m glad this platform gives people the opportunity to have their passions noticed and supported.”

New groups of projects are accepted twice a year, during the fall and spring semesters. While PhilanthroPete debuted in 2017, the platform has skyrocketed over the past few years.

In 2022, its projects raised just under $15,000. But in the last fiscal year, funding saw a dramatic increase as it received 1,170 gifts that raised more than $222,000, all directly supporting students, faculty and staff.

Performance in the fall semester exceeded last school year’s total numbers, both in amount and number of gifts.

Still, the platform is always looking for ways to improve and expand.

“Much of our plans center on continuing efforts to increase the on-campus awareness of PhilanthroPete so that more organizations and departments know this is an option for them,” said Kyle Stringer, assistant director of annual giving. “As we are getting close to having nearly 70 projects a semester, we would love to see that number get closer and closer to 100 projects.”

Successful PhilanthroPete projects stay engaged with donors and other advocates throughout a 20-40 day campaign. Students and campus partners create a compelling webpage that markets exactly what they need and helps donors feel connected.

Whether it’s funding jerseys for club sports, travel for conferences, or food for events, money raised through PhilanthroPete makes a huge difference. A few successful project teams have shared their stories and the impact PhilanthroPete has had on them.

Cowboy Marching Band

Game days inside Boone Pickens Stadium wouldn’t be the same without the Cowboy Marching Band.

The musicians amplify the electric atmosphere, helping establish a strong homefield advantage by bringing out the most from both the fans in the stands and the players on the field. From “The Walk” before the game, to the alma mater afterward, the marching band’s presence is always felt.

“Marching band is one of the things that separates college football from professional football,” said Dr. Bradley Genevro, CMB director. “The energy that the marching band provides in the stadium cannot be duplicated by anything.”

CMB performs in front of hundreds of thousands of fans each year across football games, basketball games, wrestling matches, pep rallies and other university events. It has been an OSU tradition for 114 years.

Each year, marching band members participate in a 10-day band camp before the beginning of the fall semester. Along with practicing for the season, it teaches new members and reminds returning ones about CMB’s rich traditions and history.

“CMB as an institution is bigger than any of us,” Genevro said. “When we are representing this group, there are certain expectations we hold all our members accountable to. We know what it means to put on the uniform.”

Despite being one of the most prominent organizations on campus with 305 members, CMB still requires additional financial support. The band is regularly in need of instrument repairs and is always looking to supplement its supply of instruments and uniforms.

CMB also has sizable travel expenses, covering 1,356 miles this past football season, as well as music and licensing costs. Its PhilanthroPete project, which raised more than $16,000, received a generous matching gift of $5,000 from Bob and Pam Spinks.

“PhilanthroPete is a way of connecting ourselves with alumni and supporters that we might not have relationships with otherwise,” Genevro said. “This project has helped us expand our reach and open the doors for future communication.”

OSU Women in Aviation

The world of aviation is 120 years old, but only 7% of the industry is represented by women.

5 women stand in front of a plane

OSU’s Chapter of Women in Aviation International is looking to do its part in changing that. The home of the Flying Cowgirls, OSUWAI is committed to building relationships and getting women involved in aviation through community outreach, social events and networking opportunities.

OSU-WAI President Dana Friend said the organization’s involvement with school programs is one of the most rewarding aspects about being a member. She and other officers have developed K-5 and 9-12 programs where they share the possibilities of aviation careers with youth.

“Getting to see kids and young adults get so excited about their futures is really inspiring,” Friend said. “Just like it’s important to celebrate the trailblazers who came before us, it’s important to pay it forward for the generations of aviation professionals.”

Along with community outreach, networking is also a core pillar of OSU-WAI. For the Flying Cowgirls, the annual WAI Conference is their best opportunity to do so.

The conference features guest speakers, workshops, industry briefings, the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame induction ceremony and more. It’s an incredibly beneficial opportunity for aviation enthusiasts in any phase of their career.

“The WAI Conference is a showstopper,” Friend said. “There is no other event where so many women in aviation convene or a place where so many networking opportunities are available.”

OSU-WAI’s PhilanthroPete project was set up specifically to raise money for its members to attend the conference. The organization has raised thousands of dollars to cover the costs of registration, airfare, meals and lodging.

While the average cost to attend is $1,600 per member, PhilanthroPete has given OSU-WAI hope that its members can attend for as little as $100.

“Our chapter works hard to fundraise so as many Flying Cowgirls as possible can attend the conference,” Friend said. “More women are getting involved in the industry, breaking stereotypes and proving that the sky is not the limit, it’s just our playground.”

OSU Running Club

Running is a popular hobby for many, providing an outlet to relieve stress, teaching mental discipline and improving overall physical health.

Adam Hartman, president of OSU Running Club, loves running because it is proof that hard work pays off. It developed mental toughness, preparing him to handle challenges in all aspects of his life. Still, when he started OSU Running Club in 2023, Hartman wasn’t sure if it would catch on with enough students.

“We took a leap of faith, hoping that our passion for running would be shared by fellow students at OSU we didn’t know yet,” Hartman said. “The most rewarding part of seeing the club grow is finding those dedicated, passionate members we hoped for.“

For a first-year organization, Running Club has performed beyond expectations and already found a dedicated community on campus. Its members consistently show up twice a week for events, even into the cold winter months.

The club has competed in both the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon as well as the Tulsa Marathon and Half-Marathon. Last October, it held a Halloween-themed 5K where members wore costumes during the run.

“In November, we had two freshmen step into officer positions within the club without hesitation,” Hartman said. “It’s extremely promising to think that members like these can help the club outlast its founders and continue to grow.”

men running

Running Club did face some challenges, however. Since first year clubs can’t apply for financial aid from the competitive sports office, it was solely reliant on member’s dues to pay for club activities.

PhilanthroPete funding has helped alleviate those concerns, raising $800 to support club activities. The funds will allow the organization to hold dinner and movie night, a race on the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course, an end-of-year party and club T-shirts.

“Setting up the PhilanthroPete page was a lot of work to navigate the first time, but it was very rewarding,” Hartman said. “PhilanthroPete donations were the largest source of income for the OSU Running Club in its first year. They tremendously helped us solidify our club as longlasting and impactful.”

Agronomy Club

osu agronomy club

OSU Agronomy Club has been around for a century, teaching its members and the community how to leave the Earth better than they found it.

Although it is the official club of the plant and soil sciences department, the group consists of a variety of majors from across the Ferguson College of Agriculture. With members also hailing from many different regions, the club is able to share a diverse set of perspectives on agriculture.

“The Agronomy Club is a family-like community of individuals who provide a supportive space for networking and personal growth,” Agronomy Club President Morgan Wehr said. “Engagement extends beyond our formal gatherings, with members and advisors collaborating on projects, agronomy tours and community outreach initiatives.”

Along with participating in events within the college and during Homecoming, Agronomy Club serves OSU’s land-grant mission by educating the community.

Last fall, the club grew and harvested pumpkins before visiting elementary school classes to speak about the importance of agronomy. Students were shown how to plant seeds and took home a small pumpkin.  

Agronomy Club also hosts Agronomy Tour Day, which allows members to gain hands-on experience with agronomic businesses with Oklahoma as well as promote networking. But the club’s biggest networking opportunity is the annual National Student of Agronomy, Soil & Environmental Sciences Meeting.

“These meetings are extremely beneficial to our members and allows them to collaborate with like-minded students from different universities, world renowned professors and industry professionals,” Wehr said.

Attendees compete in various competitions, attend panels and a career fair, and spend a whole day touring an agronomy facility.

Previously, Agronomy Club could only afford to send club officers to the meeting, but PhilanthroPete has helped change that. This year’s project raised more than $2,500 to cover the cost of registration, travel and more. The funds will allow all members to be able to attend.

“PhilanthroPete has promoted its importance of our club and allowed it to become more prevalent in our community, sharing its importance with even more people,” Wehr said. “It’s very exciting that we can share these amazing opportunities with more students.”

Photos: Provided

Story by: Grant Ramirez  | STATE Magazine

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