Virginia Tech is encouraging the Hokie Nation to come together online next week, on the first day of spring, to give to the university.
On March 20 starting at noon, Eastern time, Virginia Tech will host its first Giving Day, beginning what will become an annual tradition. Giving Day, with the theme “Spring Forward,” lasts until noon March 21.
Giving Day events are 24-hour online fundraising challenges that universities and organizations host to rally supporters and inspire donations. Virginia Tech expects thousands of alumni, students, faculty, staff, family, and friends to participate by donating what they can to whatever areas of the university that are important to them.
Throughout Giving Day’s 24 hours, supporters can follow the action online via social media, emails, and special announcements. The day will feature matching and challenge gift opportunities for participants to increase the impact of their generosity. All are encouraged to use the hashtag #vtgivingday when posting information about the event via social media.
“We want to inspire our entire Hokie Nation to participate in this new tradition,” said John Torget, Virginia Tech’s assistant vice president for leadership gifts and annual giving. Torget and a large team of colleagues began planning for this milestone event last April.
From fiscal 2015 to 2017, Virginia Tech more than doubled the amount of money it raised in new gifts and commitments. But the university trails some of its peers in several crucial giving measures, including alumni giving percentage and the size of its endowment relative to enrollment. It is important for the university to continue to improve its fundraising in order for Virginia Tech to become a world-leading university, Torget said. Approximately 170 ambassadors are helping to spread the word about Giving Day and encouraging their friends to join them in donating. “Giving back is a huge part of being a Hokie,” said Laura Symanski, a 1989 Virginia Tech alumna and a Giving Day ambassador.
As an ambassador, Symanski, who is president of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Fauquier County Chapter, has been sending e-blasts through the group’s alumni newsletter to promote Giving Day.
Alumni support is important “to keep Virginia Tech progressing toward the future,” said Symanski, whose daughter is a first-year Hokie. Jerry Hulick, a 1973 Virginia Tech graduate who has supported the university for many years through service and philanthropy, was the first Hokie to commit to being a Giving Day challenge donor. His challenge gifts are for both the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the College of Science.
Hulick said he got involved to make a difference and motivate others to give to Virginia Tech. By doing so, he continues a legacy of generosity that includes establishing fellowships and scholarships for students and supporting the university’s Center for Autism Research. “Every dollar that goes to support future generations and our future leaders is, I believe, an investment that rivals few others,” Hulick said, who is a 2016 member of the College of Science Hall of Distinction and a member of the Ut Prosim Society of donors. “It’s about creating opportunities and possibilities for all.”
Virginia Tech students also are joining the Giving Day action. Rachel Willis, a junior, is a member of the iSupport Virginia Tech Student Giving Campaign. Willis and other members of her team are promoting Giving Day across campus by placing price tags this week at well-known Virginia Tech sites, including the Newman Library cafe. The tags offer details about specific Hokie alumni donations that support these parts of campus. The iSupport students also will set up two tables on campus March 19-20 to promote Giving Day by offering free T-shirts and other gifts. “It’s important because it’s all about supporting what you care about, and I think students really are interested in that,” said Willis, who joined the iSupport team when it began last spring.
Gifts of any size are encouraged, because a major goal of Giving Day is to enhance Virginia Tech’s culture of philanthropy. One of the university’s strategic priorities is to reach an alumni giving rate of 22 percent by 2022, which is its 150th anniversary.
“I think Hokie Nation is ready for this,” Torget said. “Giving Day is a unique opportunity to engage all of our supporters at once, to see just how much of an impact we can make together. Whether it’s long-time donors continuing their tradition or students and young alumni giving for the very first time, everyone’s participation is important.”