Love from the generations

Dylan Fister | Staff Phtographer | Layout/Multimedia editorChloe Warham instructs students in the Rangos School of Health Sciences during a physical therapy program using artificial limbs. Funding from the Duquesne Day of Giving supports interactive hands-on learning for students from all schools.

Josh DeLia | Staff Writer

Feb. 16, 2023

Duquesne’s annual Day of Giving gave alumni a chance to give back to the university, and they came through in support of current university programs and activities.

The Day of Giving is an annual fundraising event where members of the Duquesne community are encouraged by university ambassadors to donate to the various schools and organizations around campus, as well as facilities such as Gumberg Library.

The official website for the event showed that alumni were the community group that brought in the most donations, with 858 total gifts, on Wednesday, Feb. 8 this year.

Hillary Moore, director of the annual Day of Giving, has been with Duquesne for over a year managing university donations.

Moore, in a conversation via Zoom, talked about how important the event is to the alumni community and how donors consistently ask to see more students become involved, as well as to see how their donations are enhancing the student experience.

“I think that Day of Giving is a great way to engage. I think you are giving back, you are getting updates, and the social media [from Day of Giving recipients] is crazy,” she said.

Moore was surprised to see the donor population skew younger in the data accumulated from the event this year. She was delighted seeing younger alumni generously donating.

“Whenever we are sending out letters, or mail pieces, our older generations are responding that way. Younger generations, most recent alumni, are responding more to these digital appeals,” she said.

Sarah Sperry, the assistant vice president of alumni engagement, was an ambassador for the event.

As an ambassador, Sperry was responsible for reaching out to alumni in order to motivate them to donate to the areas of campus they felt passionate about. Generally, this means communicating with alumni over phone, email and social media.

The Day of Giving website showed Sperry to be the ambassador who generated the third highest number of gifts, at 31.

Sperry, in a phone conversation, talked about how much she enjoys being an ambassador and how networking over the years has made the process easier.

“It’s actually quite fun. I’ve been at the university for 11 years, so I have built up a lot of contacts and people that I’ve met throughout the years that have served on alumni boards, or have volunteered or I’ve met at different events, and become good friends with and know are big supporters of the university,” she said.

Sperry said a central interest of many alumni looking to make monetary contributions is how current students are faring at the university.

“The alumni like to hear about what the students are up to, and what new things they can be involved in, and the research they’re doing and their opportunities to travel,” she said.

One of the main ways alumni, and donors in general, help Duquesne during the Day of Giving is by working with designated gift officers to set “challenge” gift goals.

These challenges are dollar-for-dollar matches. Donors will promise to double a certain monetary amount for a university organization if the recipients can raise that amount themselves.

Adam Viers, assistant vice president for major gifts, has been at Duquesne for 13 years, and works with his team in order to build relationships with potential donors and talk with them about gift-giving opportunities.

“My team and I, we help to secure challenge gifts and encourage donors to be supportive of the Day of Giving,” he said.

Viers recognizes the importance of events like the Day of Giving as a way of strengthening alumni relations.

“It’s helping to continue to build a foundation of support and a culture of philanthropy, and it allows us to get more of our alumni and friends involved in bettering the university,” he said.

This year’s 61 challenges alone raised the university over $268,000, Viers said.

After Wednesday’s donation window closed, the official Day of Giving site showed that the law, business and nursing schools received the most donations as university programs, and the athletics department had the most donations overall.

The site conveyed that the School of Law had accumulated $70,667 from 97 gifts.

That money will be put toward the school’s Vision Fund, which involves “developing collaborative and interdisciplinary learning opportunities,” “teaching principles of leadership” and “fostering student well-being,” the site said.

The School of Business will put its gained $66,172 toward advancing its undergraduate and graduate programs and “supporting innovative faculty research,” the website said.

According to the site, the School of Nursing will put its $32,339 toward advancing its unrestricted fund, student emergency fund and Alumni Association Endowed Student Scholarship, among other areas of need.

“We are very, very happy with the results,” Moore said.

Moore believes that the Day of Giving, which takes almost an entire year to plan, is a good day for people from all corners of the campus community to come together to support the school.

“It’s a good way to continue the dialogue, and to keep in touch with Duquesne,” she said.