When I took the position as Communications Coordinator here at UKirk, I knew part of my job would be fundraising and grant writing. I wasn’t intimidated, but I wasn’t completely confident either. I dabbled in fundraising some in a previous job as a youth director and I had several ideas, I just wasn’t sure how good I would be at it. One thing I didn’t realize though, is that when you love an organization so deeply and you believe 110% in what they are doing, it is so easy to ask folks for money.
When I moved to Knoxville in 2014, UKirk became my home, literally, I lived in the upstairs apartment. This place and the people involved here were the first community I knew in this new city, and they welcomed me with open, loving arms. I have seen this ministry transition to new leadership, go through a name change, watched the community grow and struggle, watched seniors graduate and freshmen just beginning. I have seen this place create a whole new venture through UPerk and throughout all the change, it has remained steady and here for all those that need it.
UKirk has always been a safe space for students here on the campus of the University of Tennessee. It is a place that students can ask the big questions, grow in their faith, find a family and worship God together. It has also become a space where students, faculty and staff can grab a cup of coffee, hold meetings for their organizations, meet with their study groups and just hang out. When you take a step back and look at all the different programs that UKirk offers on top of the home away from home it offers students, you can understand why it isn’t hard to ask folks to support this great ministry.
UKirk is a nonprofit, campus ministry located in the heart of UT Knoxville. Nonprofit? But you have a coffee shop? Ahhh, great question! Our coffee shop is mostly self-service and it is all donation based. We make just enough money each week to buy the next week’s coffee. UPerk does not turn a profit for us and that was never the intention. UPerk is first and foremost a space of hospitality to the whole campus, we just happen to serve delicious and ethically sourced coffee as well.
Each year we hold two large fundraisers. In the spring and summer, we open our FootVol Parking auction. We auction off our parking spaces for the football season, resulting in our biggest fundraiser that we do each year. We are thankful for the many FootVol parkers that have paid for parking spots on our property for over 20 years, we couldn’t do what we do without them.
In 2016, we began holding a Giving Tuesday campaign in November that runs for a week. During this fundraising campaign, we post videos of our students talking about why they love this ministry, blogs written by students and board members and photos of our family here at UKirk. This offers us a time to share with others the impact that UKirk has on this campus and community. This fundraiser has been extremely successful and helps us raise additional funds each year for our programming here at UKirk.
As a nonprofit, fundraising is very important, especially as our funding continues to shift and we find ourselves relying more on individual givers than on the Presbytery. While the two fundraisers mentioned above are extremely important to our financial wellbeing, we are a growing ministry with an abundance of programs and need to hold smaller fundraisers throughout the year. This May we have been holding a fundraiser in honor of our graduating class of 2019. In recent years, we have had two UKirk alum give to this ministry on the day of their graduation. One student gave $2,017 in honor of her graduation year and this past December a graduate set up a monthly recurring gift of $20.18 in honor of her graduating year. We recognize that not every recent graduate can give in this capacity so that is why we are reaching out to you. Our students value this ministry, our alumni value this ministry, our board members value this ministry and our hope is that you will value this ministry as well.
As I write this, we are 66% of the way to our goal of $2,019 and we still have 2 weeks left! With your help, we can do it together. All we are asking is that you give $20.19, want to do more? We won’t hold you back! 😉 Our board members and our staff, myself included, have given, but we still need your help. If you have never been to UKirk, I would encourage you to come by and see the space, I would love to personally give you a tour.