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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

W&L Give Day Surpasses Expectations

Art Goldsmith, the Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics, takes gifts from callers on W&L's first-ever Give Day to support the Annual Fund. From the start of its planning, the goal for Give Day—a one-day campaign to increase the number of donors, on April 24—was to create a University-wide initiative, encouraging students, undergraduate and law alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends to participate. Our constituents are strong supporters of W&L, and we were confident that the urgency and excitement of reaching a goal in only 24 hours would create incentive for immediate action.

Late in the afternoon on April 23, we hit send on the teaser email and couldn't have been more excited for Give Day to start the next morning. Arriving at the office bright and early on April 24, we felt confident and were eager to see our constituents respond. The email from President Ken Ruscio reached in-boxes around 8 a.m., and by 8:23 a.m. there were already 239 donors. By 9:10 a.m., there were 458. That's when we realized Give Day was going to succeed, and do so quickly. A steady stream of inspiring emails—not to mention generous gifts—from colleagues, alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff poured in throughout the day. One my favorite messages was from Beau Dudley, executive director of alumni affairs, to the Alumni Board, saying simply, "We thought Give Day might work, but it is crazy good."

Phones started ringing in the Giving Suite, and online gifts arrived every minute. Volunteers struggled happily all day to keep up with countless tweets and Facebook posts by W&L supporters, and the demonstrated excitement and passion expressed for W&L was awe-inspiring. The next 15 hours flew by as we marveled at the support, social media activity, volunteer work, and just plain love for Washington and Lee expressed by the campus community near and far. 

We continue to process Give Day gifts and look forward to sharing final numbers in the coming weeks. But, as director of annual giving, saying I was proud to be a member of the W&L community on Give Day would be a gross understatement. I offer my since thanks to everyone associated with W&L in any way, for your continuing support of the institution.

Ben Bailey '75 recapped the day perfectly when he said, "Well done, folks. Last night's email caught my attention. So I started the day in my hometown of Charleston, W. Va., over coffee at home, with Ken Ruscio's challenge. By mid-morning, at my local airport, the bar had been raised, so I made a contribution while waiting to board a plane. By the time I landed in Atlanta, the goal had been reached and the bar raised again. Hopped on the next flight, and now here I am in Michigan with the bar even higher and the results gratifying, to say the least. Excellent idea, great use of technology, wonderful example of community at work. Thanks. Do it again next year."

–Skylar Beaver, Director of Annual Giving