For the tenth straight year, UConn Ignite is helping students raise money for the University groups and causes that matter to them. Teams are participating in mini-challenges during this student-run crowdfunding competition to earn a portion of $20,000 in prize money! Check out the list of participating teams at s.uconn.edu/ignite2023. You can support the teams by visiting that link until March 8 at 7 a.m., or during UConn Gives March 8-9.
Ignite allows students to connect with their peers, faculty and staff, young alumni, and the UConn community to create a culture of philanthropy at UConn. Nicholas Benvenuto, a senior chemical engineering major and political science minor, has donated to Ignite in the past. We spoke to him about the power of philanthropy.
UConn Foundation: How did your friends inspire you to contribute to their causes through Ignite?
Nicholas Benvenuto: Peer-to-peer fundraising is very effective. The request came from people I was familiar with and who I want to see do well. The fact that they were able to approach me and ask, “hey do you mind quickly donating?” I could see directly how it could impact them. The process was very easy, and it felt good to contribute in whatever little way I could.
UConn Foundation: What is your advice for students who want to be philanthropists but do not have a large budget?
Nicholas Benvenuto: Even it’s just a small amount, it’s meaningful in a way that could be very impactful. I think you just have to think that five dollars is, what? A cup of coffee? Maybe just go out for coffee four days a week and give the money from the fifth day to somewhere it will have an impact. You can look for an organization, promote its message, and contribute to it. You can just develop that into your habits. One less coffee and it can meaningfully add up over time if you just donate that $5 every week.
UConn Foundation: You are studying chemical engineering and political science in the hopes of combining these two disciplines to solve problems in marginalized communities with limited resources. How can philanthropy contribute to that type of work?
Nicholas Benvenuto: Philanthropy is a good place to start. There are a lot of other mechanisms in society that work more slowly. Philanthropy is a good way to quickly get funds out to a cause in a way that’s expedited. It’s not the total solution, but it helps to get things started and for smaller issues or opportunities, it’s an easy way to have a large impact.