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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Casey Rotter

Casey Rotter wrote her thesis about capturing a younger giving demographic. 

UW-Madison alumna, UNICEF fundraiser speaks to students about the importance of charity

In the spirit of homecoming week’s community service theme, UNICEF’s Next Generation founder and Director Casey Rotter spoke to UW-Madison students about the importance of young people’s dedication to charity.

Rotter, who studied international relations with an emphasis on African and global cultures, credits her time at UW for much of her success. She now works as a professional fundraiser and leader in providing global aid to children.

The Wisconsin alumna said perhaps the most monumental point in her life thus far lies in her decision to sign up for Professor Harold Scheub’s African Storytelling course during her first semester as a freshman.

“That class taught me a lot about who I wanted to be,” she said. “It also taught me a lot about storytelling and that basically, anything you do in life, it’s important to be a good storyteller.”

After learning more about UNICEF from a student on campus who had been rescued during the Second Sudanese Civil War, Rotter became determined to join the organization.

Following her graduation in 2005, she moved to New York where she interned at UNICEF during the day and pursued her master’s degree from New York University at night.

Her work and the charity sector’s growing fear of an aging donor base inspired Rotter to write a thesis about how to capture a younger giving demographic.

Upon finishing her thesis, Rotter presented her research and conclusions to UNICEF’s director. Impressed by Rotter’s findings, the director asked her to create and apply for the position she holds today.

Since securing the job she helped to create, Rotter has traveled to numerous places around the world and helped establish “Next Gen” chapters in many different countries to help raise funds for the children living there.

In 2012, UW-Madison honored Rotter with the “Forward Under 40” award in recognition of her significant achievements.

As a fundraiser, Rotter encourages young people to defy their generation’s stereotype of “slacktivism” and actively engage in charitable acts.

“People love to tell stories about young people doing good things,” she said. “We’re getting the word out there that we aren’t necessarily ‘slacktivists,’ but we can be activists, we can be philanthropists even with a dollar.”

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Rotter also encouraged her audience to embrace the confidence and idealism associated with college students.

“I wish we had a little bit more of the … gumption that you have when you’re young and fresh out of college and the world is yours,” she said. “It really can be if you continue with it.”

Almost a decade after leaving UW-Madison, Rotter said she continues to use the lessons she learned here as guidelines in her work.

“I’m fundraising and traveling to many different countries around the world meeting children who otherwise might not have a voice,” she said. “To come back and be able to tell their story to someone, to move someone to actually care about someone in another place is something that I learned freshman year was really important to learn how to do, and I think has really stayed with me throughout the rest of my life.”

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