It's not us, it's you


November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving is coming up this week and before you know it, we will head from our turkey dinners right into the high-pitched shopping season. If you’ve ever watched the news on Black Friday, you may have seen the lines of people who make a sport of getting up at 4 a.m. to rush into stores for the hottest deals or discounts. And then there are those who spend hours on their computer cyber shopping.

But do you know of anyone who, at 4 a.m., has rushed into a foundation to donate? Or who has stood in line with a mob of people to be the first into their charity, church or nonprofit with their wallets open just to give away all of their cash? Or have you heard of many people who stay up all night surfing the web just looking for the right place to make a pledge? It just doesn’t happen. Most of us need to be reminded of the opportunity to give, the different ways we can give, and the impact we can have on others through our generosity.

When I first shared with friends that I was taking the role as executive director at the Montana State University-Northern Foundation (also known as the Northern Alumni Foundation), many said, “Congratulations! You’ll be great at it!” And almost in the same breath they said, “I could never do it. That is a tough job.” When asked why they didn’t think they could do it, people said that they just aren’t comfortable asking others for money.

However, most of us would agree that it’s different to ask for donations if we are doing it to benefit someone else or on behalf of something we are passionate about. For some reason “the ask” isn’t as challenging if we are asking in order to lift someone else up or to achieve a shared goal.

And that’s how I see my role at the Foundation, to help. My real job title should be “instigator for good” vs. executive director. I consider the task of our staff, board and volunteers as one to simply open up the opportunity for you to do good for others. Many times, people just need to know that there is an opportunity to help, that a need is out there, or what they can do to make an impact. The MSU-Northern Foundation was created by you, members of the community, alumni and friends of Northern, to act as a vessel to help provide financial support to students and the university. We couldn’t do this without the generosity of others. It’s not us, it’s you that makes this campus flourish.

So how can you help? The Foundation offers many avenues for you to impact the students who come to MSU-Northern. Over the years we have had campaigns to physically improve the campus and fund new structures like the Diesel Technology Center and, most recently, the sports complex campaign. Our big initiative this time of year is our Excellence Fund. The Excellence Fund is a vital yearly campaign that gives us the finances to function as an organization. The Excellence Fund helps us to outreach to alumni, fundraise for even bigger initiatives, and manage scholarships for students.

You are changing students’ lives. You are the ones making a lasting impression on the campus by supporting our key campaigns, and you are the one who will leave a legacy that can help others through memorials, contributions, gifts, and planned giving. Because of you, the MSU-Northern Foundation last year awarded $449,000 in scholarships. Because of you we are able to keep the alumni connected, informed, and excited about their alma mater via our Excellence Fund.

I would argue that there aren’t more generous people in the world than those in north-central Montana. You can all be an “instigator of good” this giving season by going to or calling us at 265-3711 to get more information on our key initiatives. When we come calling to make that “ask”, just remember we are simply opening the door for you to do good things.


Shantel Cronk

Executive director/CEO

Montana State University-Northern Foundation


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