Day of Giving served GCU's sense of community well

Women's basketball coach Molly Miller models the aviator sunglasses that were a hit on Day of Giving. (Photo by Rick D'Elia)

Editor's note: Reprinted from the November 2021 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU Magazine

Giving has never been a foreign concept at Grand Canyon University. Through offerings of time, money or prayer, the GCU community has demonstrated its generous heart.

But as the University continues to grow, it aims to do even more on campus and in the community. Thus, Day of Giving was conceived.

“We’re excited to bring philanthropy to GCU and the opportunity for Lope Nation to support what they love most,” said Cherylann Galdi, Director of Annual Giving.

The 24-hour event, which made its debut Oct. 21, incorporated not only a day full of festivities on campus, such as a bounce house obstacle course and a Canyon Worship Night concert, but also livestreams to engage out-of-state Lopes.

The purpose?

Raising donations for a multitude of campaigns on campus. The event generated more than 2,000 monetary gifts, totaling more than $200,000.

Each of the nine colleges hosted its own campaigns aimed at positively impacting its students. There also were additional campaigns for campus activities and clubs.

It provided alumni and other donors the opportunity to choose what to fund based on what they are passionate about.

What makes GCU’s Day of Giving different? Vice President of Advancement Dr. Kale Gober said it is about intent.

“Development at virtually all higher ed institutions is a ‘have to’ business. You ‘have to’ raise money for scholarships, programs, to support faculty salaries,” he said.

“At GCU, because of our financial business model that allows us to be sustainable, it’s a ‘get to’ business. We ‘get to’ raise money for these wonderful things on Day of Giving. That’s number one.”

It went beyond giving. The College of Theology, for example, also brought awareness to five important campaigns that can impact current and future students.

“For us, it’s exciting to connect the future generation of GCU students and the current crop of GCU students and future leaders with those who are already making a difference in the world on the basis of what they picked up at GCU,” College of Theology Dean Dr. Jason Hiles said.

“Things have moved so quickly over the last 10, 12, 13 years that we’re just a very different place, and a lot of times people lose sight of how much we’ve grown, how much we’ve done, but also how faithful we’ve been to who we are — a Christian university, trying to bring the Christian message to a number of things.”

With new and budding initiatives, such as the L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center for individuals with moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities, Day of Giving was a major opportunity for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to bring awareness to projects and programs.

“It takes a lot of resources to run a special program like that,” CHSS Dean Dr. Sherman Elliott said. “This intimate program changes people’s lives, and we’re not seeing it in the future, we’re seeing it right now.”

Whether it be the L.O.P.E.S. Academy, helping supply social and emotional support to adolescents or providing scholarship opportunities for students, CHSS offered donors a multitude of options for donation funds to be allocated.

Witnessing the scope of generosity displayed on Day of Giving is a sight Elliott won’t soon forget.

“I am always grateful and amazed that people are willing to open up and give of themselves, not just their time but also their treasure, to those in need,” he said. “When they gave directly to our college initiatives, they are giving directly to human beings and therefore they are ministering to them in such a way that they are changing their life.”

For the Honors College, which has students from each of the other undergraduate colleges on campus and was tied with CHSS for the most most campaigns (six), Day of Giving provided further opportunities to make an impact as diverse as its student body. There were opportunities to fund multiple scholarships and study-abroad programs.

Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli said the donations will help the Honors College continue to give once-in-a-lifetime experiences to students.

“We’ve had such tremendous support from President (Brian) Mueller and the executive leadership team here,” Naegeli said. “They’ve been subsidizing the costs for a lot of the programming and the things that we’ve been doing for our students since we started in 2013, and they continue to give and we’re abundantly grateful for that.

“For others to really come alongside that, support us and help take us to the next level, it’s just a blessing.”

No matter the college, campaign or amount raised, Day of Giving was another example of what’s possible when the GCU community comes together. It’s the beginning of something powerful, pivotal and positively purple.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].

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Bible Verse

Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah. (Jeremiah 2:28)

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