Giving Day 2017

With the Wind at its Back, Mason Clears New Milestones


When organizers chose Thursday, April 6 for Mason's first university-wide Giving Day, milestones seemed inevitable: 45 years of independence as a public university, a campaign—true to its name—rocketing past its goal. Yet hailstones threatened. For much of the day, across all three Mason campuses, torrential rain and gale-force winds descended. The National Weather Service even issued a mid-afternoon tornado warning.

But no amount of rain could dampen the enthusiasm as Mason launched a new giving tradition. If anything, the wind was at Mason's back.

A much-anticipated effort, Giving Day represented a new way for the entire university community—alumni, friends, students, faculty, and staff—to learn about and give back to the programs and people that drive Mason’s success. Over a busy 24 hours, these stakeholders and supporters, affectionately known as “Mason Nation,” were asked to help Mason go even faster and farther still.

The event had both online and in-person components. Online, the website givingday.gmu.edu highlighted noteworthy funds and projects from across the university’s many divisions and academic units. Pre-launch buildup included the Patriot starring in a series of humorous preview videos.

The first video in the series.

The day of, social media buzzed with the #Give2Mason tag. “I gave to University Life to support the departments that helped me learn and grow,” tweeted one donor. “I gave today to support the awesomeness that is @DocNix12 and the @gmugreenmachine,” shared a fan of the university’s #1 pep band and its director, Dr. Michael Nickens (a.k.a. Doc Nix).

Gifts came in all sizes, from $5 to upwards of $5,000, from donors in 39 states and five countries. As they gave, alumni took to social media to share meaningful memories of their college years. One alumna tweeted that her generous gift to the University Libraries honors her experience staffing the Fenwick Library reference desk as a student.

As rain poured down across the Fairfax campus—nearly as heavily as the volume of new gifts—on-site festivities were moved indoors to the lobby of Southside dining hall. Tables with Mason swag drew attention from students between classes—as did VIP guests such as President Ángel Cabrera, Athletic Director Brad Edwards, Doc Nix, the Patriot, and “fastest man in football” Darrell Green. Green and gold quills inserted into a display helped to mark each gift that came in; Edwards had the honor of planting the 400th quill.

As of midnight on April 6, Giving Day had cleared its final goal—and gifts were still coming in. When all gifts were counted, more than 1,200 donors had contributed a total of $188,724 to support a wide range of causes, with special emphasis on scholarships, the arts, and School of Business initiatives. The Alumni Association Scholarship Endowment received the top number of donations. The most popular facilities-related opportunity was the drive to build a basketball practice facility—a heartening sign of Patriot Pride, much like Giving Day itself.

April 7, 2017 / LH–RR (updated April 20)