Day of Giving 2021 focuses on academic programs

Baker+University%27s+2021+Day+of+Giving+will+focus+on+donations+to+specific+academic+programs.+

Rebekah Nelson

Baker University’s 2021 Day of Giving will focus on donations to specific academic programs.

Story by Maya Hodison, Staff Writer

Once a year, Baker University hosts one day dedicated to raising money for the school. Using the hashtag #OneBakerOneGoal, Day of Giving encourages Baker family, friends and community members to give back.

Day of Giving 2021 will take place on Apr. 22. Due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, the event will be completed entirely through social media.

There will be no in-person aspect; whereas in previous years, the Harter Union was the epicenter of festivities.

Assistant Director of Development Rachel Shuck feels the greatest downfall of transitioning to a fully online platform is the loss of student interaction and engagement. Though Day of Giving is targeted more toward parents, alumni and friends of the university who tend to have a greater capacity to give, students have been able to see the process face-to-face in previous years.

“It is so important for our students to be educated about what the money is being raised for,” Shuck said.

Regardless, not much will have changed in terms of what donors will see. For them, Day of Giving has always been a virtual event. They see an email or social media post, and they click to give their gift within a couple minutes of ease.

The Day of Giving is a 24-hour event for which Shuck is the main point of contact. The giving link will go live at midnight and remain open until 11:59 p.m. for donors to easily give throughout the day.

This year, efforts will be focused on raising funds for academic programs at Baker. When donors click on the giving link, they will be taken to a form where they will be able to select one of the 36 majors.

“For our donors to be able to give back to a program that made such a difference in their lives or one that they have a passion for is so special,” Shuck said.

The list of 36 majors does not include the majors cut during recent budget reductions, including French, German, Theatre and Philosophy, which will be transitioned to just minors. But, donors may support these reduced programs in other ways.

For example, if someone wants to support the Theatre program, they can choose to donate to the Music major since Theatre falls under that department.

Organizers of the event will not advocate for specific majors. Rather, they will encourage overall support to avoid bias.

Some faculty and alumni will serve as ambassadors for specific majors throughout the day. They will post on social media, send emails and make phone calls to urge people to give back to their programs.

There is also a small group of alumni that have already donated money to use as challenge dollars. Throughout the day, there will be virtual challenges, allowing for gifts to be matched. The challenges will be shaped around engagement and outreach.

When the event is complete, the department chair over each major will have complete autonomy to decide what the funds raised will be used for. They may choose to bring in a guest speaker, upgrade technology, focus on faculty development or anything else that fits the needs of the department. There is no limit to what they can do with the funds.

Questions arose about whether or not administrators chose to emphasize academic programs this year due to the recent budget cuts that eliminated majors. According to Associate Director of Development Phillip Hannon, this was not a factor.

Hannon explained that the mission of Day of Giving is the same every year regardless of what budget cuts occur.

“Day of Giving 2021, as all Day of Giving campaigns, is directed toward giving students the opportunity to have a wonderful experience at Baker University,” Hannon said.

Though the mission is the same, the ultimate allocation of funds is different each year. Baker University President Lynne Murray and Vice President of Advancement and Enrollment Management Danielle Jones Rease do their research and decide which areas need the most attention.

“This year we are so pleased that the decision was made to target the funds to each academic department,” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Darcy Russell said. “I am really grateful to everyone that supports the academic mission of Baker University.”