Project Mailbox founder Nick Dougherty said the idea of a donation box on campus allows students to give back to the local and international community, even if they donate a few cents.
“We shouldn’t feel guilty for not giving charity groups our credit cards,” Dougherty, a 2012 College of Engineering graduate, said. “I wanted to make charity accessible so I figured in order to do that, it would have to be something anonymous — something you would want to do on your own time to get involved.”
Project Mailbox has a mailbox located outside of the University Grill on Commonwealth Avenue to collect simple, anonymous donations from students, Dougherty said.
The idea for Project Mailbox formed at BU during the summer of 2010. Dougherty, who still works with the group, said his goal is to expand across the country while fundraising for a new organization every month.
“There is a huge incentive for students to get involved because they can make a huge impact without giving an arm and a leg,” Dougherty said. “If every student [at BU] donated a laundry quarter a week, we would raise $16,000 in a month.”
Co-founder Kaylee Dombrowski said Project Mailbox became an official 501c3 nonprofit organization in December. The only Project Mailbox chapter is located at BU.
“Part of our motto is that the more colleges that have a Project Mailbox chapter, the more communities will be affected by their local colleges,” Dombrowski, a 2011 College of Fine Arts graduate, said. “It makes college students more globally minded because we donate to a new organization every month.”
Members of Project Mailbox meet to nominate and anonymously vote on the next charity organization, Dombrowski said. The group cycles between local nonprofit groups and international groups once a month.
“Ideally we would like to see [Project Mailbox] at colleges across the U.S. and maybe globally some day,” Dombrowski said. “We want to see this at colleges small and large, in urban and rural settings.”
President of Project Mailbox, Zulaikha Hasan, said money collected through the mailbox in February will go to the Women’s Lunch Place on Newbury Street.
“Even if you’re not homeless and you’re a woman with nowhere to go, you can go have a warm meal,” Hasan, a College of Arts and Sciences junior said. “It’s restaurant style but the people that serve you sit and eat with you.”
All of the proceeds from the donation box are donated to the charity of the month, Hasan said. She checks proposed charities to make sure they are completely nonprofit.
“College students can’t go spending an entire day cleaning up a park or volunteering at a soup kitchen because we have a lot of work to do,” Hasan said. “With this, all you have to do is drop in some change, and that little bit amounts to a lot.”
Hasan said although she is the president of Project Mailbox, every student contributes equally to recruit more members or inspire people to donate.
“The students in the organization help better society and change the world one cent at a time,” Hasan said.
Nicole Henninger, who received her Master’s from the College of Communication in December, said she has been volunteering at Project Mailbox since January 2012. She was drawn to the group because it offers her a chance to work with a variety of charity organizations.
“We are an organization that provides an outlet for college students to become philanthropic or learn about new causes and organizations they care about,” Henninger said.
Henninger said Project Mailbox only communicates with students through social media to avoid bothering potential members on the street.
“Because we don’t canvas and we just use social media, all you need is a team of students that are involved,” Henninger said. “It just takes dedicated students that can put a mailbox on campus.”