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ACUI Anticipates Fifth Day of Giving

December 4, 2019, ACUI’s fifth Day of Giving, and members of ACUI’s Education & Research Fund team are asking themselves, “Will there be another perfect storm?” 

That’s how last year’s Day of Giving was being described after a record $15,016 was raised, more than doubling the amount raised in 2016 and nearly doubling the 2017 amount of $8,710. 

“The Day of Giving has become one of my favorite events of the year,” said Kyle Burke, director of Northeastern Illinois University’s student union and event and conference services. “The fact that my friends here in Region V, and others across the nation, have donated to the Day of Giving year after year is proof to me that the people of ACUI are truly wonderful, caring, and dedicated individuals supporting this amazing Association that we all love.” 

Burke mentioned a number of facets to the Day of Giving that have motivated giving. Regional challenges based on total giving and on the number of donors have become an incentive, particularly by winning both categories since there’s a return on investment into a particular region’s scholarship fund. Promotions and presentations about the Day of Giving at the Regional Conferences prior to the event have helped, as has promotion through social media. 

“I think the positive, feel good energy and promotion throughout the day on social media is what makes the Day of Giving fun,” Burke said. “It’s become successful because we’re heavy on social media both in the days and weeks leading up to the event, but also multiple times throughout the day.” 

Education & Research Fund chairperson Sarah Aikman, a past ACUI president, pointed out that not only was last year’s Day of Giving a record-setter, but the year as a whole was one of note. Another highlight, she pointed out, was that donors have fully funded three scholarships since last year’s Day of Giving. The Chuck Morrell New Professional IPDS Scholarship, the Meg Sutton I-LEAD® Scholarship, and the MHB Internship Program each were actualized since the last Day of Giving. 

“The financial pieces for each of these, and now all of our scholarships and awards, have been fully funded, so now all donations will go to the Annual Fund,” Aikman said. “Now there is a group of us writing a new fundraising strategic plan for the Education & Research Fund.” 

One scholarship namesake, Chuck Morrell, is a former regional conference chair and an ACUI Emeritus Award recipient. He said attending the IPDS: New Professionals Orientation in 1988, when it was called the Indiana Professional Development Seminar, changed his professional life. 

“My supervisor at the time was Joan Rogers, the associated director for operations at the University of Connecticut, and she strongly suggested that I attend the IPDS program as it would offer me insight into the union profession,” Morrell recalled. “How right she was. In short order I was able to connect with colleagues across ACUI, and it led me to becoming an active volunteer for ACUI.” 

“It is with great appreciation that I acknowledge ACUI for its continued support of young professionals and it is with great humility that I will be connected to the many that will attend this program in the future,” he added. 

Marsha Herman-Betzen created the MHB Internship Program to provide graduate students of color the opportunity to advance their careers by interning at the ACUI Central Office. The former executive director, associate executive director, and coordinator of educational programs and services at ACUI said the successful support of the three scholarships and the record Day of Giving fall squarely on the identity of the ACUI membership. 

“The fact we have fully funded three scholarships to help young professionals and students is the result of a perfect storm,” she said. “To begin with, the Association devoted professional resources to artfully develop and articulate the purpose of the scholarships. Add the generosity of the ACUI members with their bone-deep commitment to help develop the next generation of leaders, and you have a winning combination. Quite simply put, if fundraising is a prioritized and supported strategic goal, ACUI members will open up their hearts and pocketbooks to give.” 

As Burke mentioned, the fun of regional challenges to stimulate giving, Aikman chimed in that the positive and competitive aspect of giving is what often leads to an energized group of donors. When she reached out last year to other past presidents and challenged them to each contribute high dollar items to the Association’s silent auction at the Annual Conference, fellow past president Gretchen Laatsch kindly one-upped her. 

“Gretchen put out her own challenge that for every $100 raised at the silent auction that each past president would pledge to match that with from $10 to $200, and I think we had 25 past presidents jump on board,” Aikman said. 

Laatsch, a Butts-Whiting Award winner who originally endowed the Gretchen Laatsch Grant & Scholarship, said as someone who couldn’t attend the 2019 Annual Conference nor bid at the silent auction, the efficient alternative would be the cash challenge, “and writing a check.” 

“Our past presidents are one of our most loyal groups and I knew we weren’t going, so why spend $100 on gift cards when there’s nothing easier than writing a check,” she said. “What inspires me is that I believe in education and I believe that a professional needs education as they move along in the field. I would not have got to where I did without that education, without the conferences, the regionals, IPDS, everything I went on to do. I know how important that is and I know you can’t do it without some funds.” 

And Laatsch was right about ACUI’s past presidents. To the number, each gave $200, making her email worth $5,000 in scholarship funding. 

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