Why we support Reinvestment Partners: An interview with Duke's Scale & Coin Business Society

In the past 20 months, students in Duke's Scale and Coin business society have directly raised $3,985.19 for Reinvestment Partners through cookie sales and Instagram fundraisers. 16 of those months were during the pandemic. Refusing to let any obstacles slow them down, these young business students share why they support this local nonprofit.

Interview with last year’s Vice President of Philanthropy, Amanda Kang (Duke ’22)

What is Duke's Scale & Coin?

Scale and Coin is Duke’s premier business society. We’re a group of undergraduates who are passionate about different areas of business - finance, consulting, technology, entrepreneurship, etc. - who come together as both a pre-professional and social organization. 

How did you learn about Reinvestment Partners?

Scale and Coin has always included philanthropy in our organization’s mission and has supported a number of different organizations in the past few years. Back in September 2019, when I first became the VP of Philanthropy, I wanted Scale and Coin to develop a more long-term partnership, so that we could make a larger, lasting impact. To keep with our background in business, I searched for organizations in North Carolina that might align with our members’ interests in investing, income equality, or financial literacy, and I came across Reinvestment Partners in an article detailing NC organizations that promoted financial independence.

What about our agency stood out to you?

Reinvestment Partners’ emphasis on community development really stood out to me and the rest of our organization. Obviously, the agency does a lot of wonderful work and provides so many services, but the community-oriented approach is what first drew me in. I think the organization’s history with policy advocacy also jumped out at me, as I’m a Public Policy major. Plus, the fact that Reinvestment Partners is located in Durham and we could work together directly was a bonus.

How did our agency's mission align with Scale & Coin's goals and mission?

On campus, Scale and Coin focuses on preparing Duke students for careers in business, but many of our members are also passionate about financial literacy. When I put the options for our philanthropic partnership to a vote with our members, we voted overwhelming to work with Reinvestment Partners. We were so impressed by all the services you offer and the impact you’ve made in the community. Since we’re looking to improve our engagement with the Durham community and give back to the city we live in, partnering with a local organization promoting financial literacy was a big priority for us.

You held a cookie sale for our agency before you even connected with us. Tell me about that! :)

We definitely should have reached out beforehand! I think I was just a little nervous to make the connection if we hadn’t already demonstrated what we could bring to Reinvestment Partners. But yes, our first fundraiser for Reinvestment Partners was a Insomnia cookie sale in October 2019, where our members gathered on Duke’s Bryan Center Plaza to sell cookies to students, faculty, and staff on campus while spreading information on Reinvestment Partners’ mission. It was my first real event that I organized as VP of Philanthropy, so I was so ecstatic when we raised $566 that fall. After we finally connected, Scale and Coin also hosted another cookie sale that Spring that raised another $347.69. So we were able to raise $913.69 total in one year!

You've now held two very successful Instagram fundraisers for RP, raising not only money, but awareness of our mission. What impact do you think your fundraisers have had on the community? On your organization? On Reinvestment Partners? Are these the impacts you had hoped to achieve?

I was definitely surprised by how many people we were able to reach with our Instagram fundraisers. The cookie sales are our signature philanthropy event each semester, so adapting to the virtual world with an online fundraiser was definitely a challenge. I was a little worried that people would be tired of social media fundraisers since it feels like every organization is doing the same. I think our success is a testament to the strength of the Scale and Coin network and how much we’re all invested in the mission of Reinvestment Partners. I think having a Duke alum match our donations 3:1 during our first Instagram fundraiser in September 2020 also motivated more students to donate because they knew their support would go even further.

Spreading awareness (in addition to raising money) on social media has also helped to elevate Duke students’ knowledge of Reinvestment Partners. I think our campaign has definitely introduced Reinvestment Partners to students who were previously unaware of your work. Even within our organization, I think being part of the fundraisers has increased our members’ enthusiasm for philanthropy work. I’m definitely super happy with all we were able to achieve, both in terms of how much we were able to contribute and how many more students are interested in Reinvestment Partners’ mission.

You have also volunteered your time to help us with COVID-19 emergency response efforts, like updating our rental eviction diversion resources. What have you learned through these efforts?

I think volunteering directly with Reinvestment Partners has really helped me see the extent of your reach in the Durham community. Fundraising can often feel a step removed from the actual impactful work, but working on the rental eviction diversion resources, rental guide, and even just helping to scan documents really gave me an appreciation of what your work looks like on a day to day basis and how many people you are helping.  

What has your experience with Reinvestment Partners been like to date?

Scale and Coin’s experience working with Reinvestment Partners has been amazing. I know our members are very invested in the future success of the organization. For me, working with my chairs directly with Reinvestment Partners' staff has been so rewarding. Not only have we been able to help in the areas of need for Reinvestment Partners, but we’ve also been able to work on projects of interest to our members. We’re currently in the process of designing a financial literacy workshop. Reinvestment Partners has also been so understanding of our busy undergraduate schedules, being so flexible with timelines and so supportive when we’re overwhelmed with schoolwork.

How do you see your group's relationship with Reinvestment Partners evolving in the future? What do you hope to achieve through it?

In my time as VP of Philanthropy for Scale and Coin, our members have learned a great deal about Reinvestment Partners’ work and they are excited about the possibility of a long term partnership. While our partnership was focused primarily on fundraising at the beginning, I think our in-person connection this past Spring semester will blossom into more volunteering support once we’re out of the pandemic. I know that we all want to do what we can to help where Reinvestment Partners needs us.

Looking into the future, I hope that we’ll be able to implement our financial literacy workshop that members worked on last Spring, continue to spread awareness on campus, and engage more of our members in philanthropy and service work. A personal aspiration of mine is to finally host the charity gala event Scale and Coin had previously organized, since the pandemic had derailed our plans, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s possible this year!

As a senior this year, I’ll be passing the torch to former chair Anna Rietbrock, so I know that our future efforts will be in great hands! She has some great ideas for new fundraisers and how to coordinate future volunteering opportunities for our members.