Giving Day to bring together Hokies worldwide
Beginning at noon, EST, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, Virginia Tech supporters from all across the country and around the world will come together online for the university’s third Giving Day.
This 24-hour event is a special time for Hokies to unite and give back in support of their favorite colleges, departments, programs, teams, and student organizations.
“Giving Day is really about the Hokie Nation coming together to celebrate the things we love about Virginia Tech and support the programs and experiences that make such an impact on our students,” said Heather Kopec, the university’s director of annual giving. “It’s a unique opportunity for us to do more together than any of us can on our own.”
Bringing the Hokie Nation together means engaging alumni, faculty, staff, fans, parents, and even students in giving back to Virginia Tech. Many participants will be giving for the first time.
“Before I made my first donation, I had always thought that the only people who gave to Virginia Tech were really rich and could afford to give a lot,” said Mojdeh Nourbakhsh ’21, a first-time donor who is co-chair of the Senior Class Gift Committee. “I didn’t really think that small gifts made any difference compared to that.”
Nourbakhsh said her mind changed when she “realized that I could give directly to the programs and organizations at Virginia Tech that mean the most to me. I don’t think a lot of students are aware of that. Being involved in my sorority has been such a huge part of my experience here that I was excited to get to give my $20.21 senior class gift to the Panhellenic Council. If enough students make small gifts to the things we care about, we can do a lot together to support the things we’re invested in.”
On Giving Day, many Hokies who give will have their impact amplified by special challenges, which offer additional funding for particular departments and programs when certain conditions are met. One challenge, for example, will award bonus money to the unit with the greatest number of out-of-state supporters within a given timeframe. Another challenge grants awards to the student organizations that have the greatest number of donors before Giving Day ends.
In all, over 100 special opportunities will increase the impact of gifts to dozens of different designations throughout the university. Many of these opportunities are made possible by challenge gifts from engaged alumni and friends of the university who are looking to inspire excitement and generosity in their fellow Hokies.
For example, in addition to an initial $20,000 gift that will help launch Giving Day for the College of Engineering, Tom '84 and Julie Taylor will be making an extra $10 contribution for every person who gives to the college’s annual fund or any of its departments or programs, up to a total of $25,000.
“The challenges of the 21st century will require more engineers to tackle the multitude of hard problems that our world faces and understand how those technologies impact our society,” said Julie Taylor, who joined the college’s advisory board in the fall of 2020. “Health care, the environment, software and artificial intelligence, and robotics are just a few examples. Virginia Tech is committed to educating students to understand and tackle those problems. I love that Giving Day can help support experiential learning – that’s such a critical part of every engineer's training.”
Julie Taylor added that she and her husband Tom, a mechanical engineering alumnus and senior vice president at Amazon, also hope their challenge will encourage more people to support the critical work of the college and what it does for students every day.
“Engineering students learn in so many ways, but the experiential, hands-on experiences are often the best – and most fun!” said Julie Taylor. “It's a great feeling to know that your gift makes a real difference to the next generation of students.”
In addition to the university’s many academic, research, community service, and student life programs, supporters will have the opportunity to make Giving Day gifts to Virginia Tech Athletics.
“We’re very enthused about Tech athletics being a part of this great event,” said Whit Babcock, Virginia Tech’s director of athletics. “Gifts from the Hokie Nation on Giving Day will help provide scholarships our student-athletes as they strive for success in competition, in the classroom, and in the community.”
To help spread the word about opportunities to support the university on Giving Day, more than 400 students, alumni, faculty, friends, and parents have already committed to serving as Giving Day Ambassadors and sharing online giving links with their networks of friends and colleagues. Ambassadors serve a crucial role in building the grassroots support needed to make Giving Day a success.
“Because everyone has their own experiences and memories of Virginia Tech, I always stress the ability to choose where their donations go, be it a department, a club, athletics, or something else,” said Christine Bryan ’87, who has served as an ambassador for each of the university’s Giving Days. “The first year I was an ambassador, I was really surprised how many people were willing to give, including a handful of Hokies that I have never met. It really shows that Hokies value giving back, especially when the university makes it so easy to do.”
Virginia Tech supporters near and far can follow along and join in the excitement at the university’s Giving Day website and by following #vtgivingday on social media.
— Written by Brian Snell