MBU Donors Rally Support, Even in Challenging Times

March 23, 2020

The university’s annual day of giving on March 12 was filled with inspirational moments as the MBU family came together to support the university in the midst of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. 

Beginning just one day after the university decided to cancel in-person classes and events, Day to Lead the Way 2020 has still amounted to a record-breaking success, thanks to the dedication of Mary Baldwin alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. 

After the sun had set on the day’s efforts, 340 donors had given a total of $311,872 for the Baldwin Fund, eclipsing the university’s goal at the outset of 300 gifts and $300,000 total.

“While there is much uncertainty in the world just now, we do know that places like Mary Baldwin will need generous support from their alumni and friends now more than ever,” said Charles E. “Chuck” Davis, vice president of University Advancement. “I am pleased and humbled by the response from so many who answered the call to make a gift on this annual day of celebration.”

Mary Baldwin also tracked an increase in giving compared to 2019, when 232 donors contributed $220,399 total for Day to Lead the Way. Last year’s fundraising goal was $125,000 for the day.  

A new initiative during this year’s Day to Lead the Way featured the MBU Athletics Department sponsoring a “Fighting Squirrel Challenge” to encourage 75 people to contribute a gift of any size between 2 and 3 p.m. If they could achieve that level of participation, a donor and Fighting Squirrels fan would give $3,000 in honor of current and past athletic coaches.

“This was a big stretch goal for us to receive that many gifts within an hour,” said Megan McAllister ’18 MEd, assistant director of development. “Athletic Director Tom Byrnes’ partnership was crucial to the success of the day. He rallied his staff to be ambassadors and connect with their networks to encourage gifts of any size during that time.” 

The Fighting Squirrels finished strong, completing the 75 gifts needed to unlock the additional funds. Other successful challenges throughout the day included a matching hour from MBU President Pamela R. Fox and times when the MBU family unlocked additional amounts of $15,000 and $50,000 respectively from two generous MBU donors.   

The MBU Athletics Department sponsored a “Fighting Squirrel Challenge” that successfully encouraged 75 people to make a gift of any size within an hour to unlock an additional $3,000 gift from a generous Fighting Squirrels fan in honor of current and past coaches.

The MBU family’s willingness to support the university is made even more impressive in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Day to Lead the Way encompassed 24 hours of rapid shifts as the country reacted to the virus’s progression and its growing impact on peoples’ daily lives.     

“It was a challenging day for our world with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and not knowing what our new normal would be, but our MBU family rallied to make the day a big success. Personally, it was very inspiring,” said McAllister.

Every gift made on Day to Lead the Way will energize the university’s commitment to providing important resources and innovative opportunities across the community. So many benefits spring from the Baldwin Fund and go directly to MBU students — from hands-on research with the latest technology to collaborative spaces that enhance learning to personalized support from exceptional professors.

To make a gift to the Baldwin Fund in support of MBU students, please visit marybaldwin.edu/give.