Pamplin College of Business alumni and friends showed up en masse on Giving Day, with 1,690 unique donors giving over $1.6 million to the college, both of which were tops among all other Virginia Tech units. Participants made gifts ranging from $5 to tens of thousands of dollars, supporting the college, programs, departments, centers, and special initiatives like GBAC.

The 24-hour period from noon to noon Feb. 24-25 marked the university’s third Giving Day, its first since 2019. All told, over 12,000 alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and friends combined to provide over $6.3 million for the university’s colleges and programs.

“Giving Day was a huge success for Pamplin College of Business,” said Dean Robert T. Sumichrast. “Thank you to our leaderboard challenger, Pamplin Advisory Council Cabinet Chair Jake Lutz, and the Pamplin Engage program challengers.”

Pamplin built upon the success of 2019’s Giving Day, when it finished in third place among all other colleges in participation, more than doubling the total number of unique donors and increasing the amount of money raised by over 600 percent.

The final standings on the Jake Lutz Leaderboard Challenge.
The final standings on the Jake Lutz Leaderboard Challenge.

This Giving Day was markedly different from previous years, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented any of the usual in-person celebrations. Instead, this year was an all online affair, with Hokies and supporters from across the country sharing their enthusiasm for Giving Day by using #VTGivingDay on social media. Followers were also encouraged to use the hashtag and share photos of the HokieBird from wherever they were.

Engaging donors in an online-only Giving Day needed the effort of every Virginia Tech faculty and staff member, as well as assistance from outside of the campus. Thus, a cadre of over 700 Giving Day Ambassadors was utilized – including 113 for Pamplin – made up of dedicated Hokies who helped spread the Giving Day message to their own circle of family and friends, utilizing the “You+2” giving goal set forth by the university.

Elizabeth Mitchell, assistant dean of advancement with Pamplin, attributed the success of Giving Day 2021 to the idea of “Hokies asking Hokies” to give back to the college and the university.

“It is a community-building event to advance our culture of philanthropy similar to other top public universities, and to provide critical resources through the power of broad-based participation,” said Mitchell.

“I elected to serve as an Ambassador based on the opportunity to personally reach out to legacy VT friends and alumni and thoroughly educate them of Apex's incredibly dedicated leadership, innovative curriculum, and the tangible, positive impact on Virginia Tech's aspiring student entrepreneurs across disparate majors, all of which would be meaningfully enhanced via additional funding from our alumni community,” said Kurt Zuch ’90, who also serves on board for the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs.

The money raised was augmented by numerous Giving Day challenges, nine of which Pamplin won or met, providing nearly $100,000 in additional funding for different Pamplin areas. Some of the challenges Pamplin won were: “Most Donors Leaderboard,” which netted the college an additional $2,000; the “4-6 p.m. Most Donors Challenge;” and the “Total Raised Leaderboard,” which won Pamplin $1,000.

Regarding Pamplin-specific challenges, the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs picked up an additional $2,000 for winning the Jake Lutz Leaderboard Challenge, which provided the top 10 Pamplin areas with the most donors a share of $10,000 in bonus funds thanks to a generous gift by Pamplin Advisory Council Cabinet Chair Jake Lutz. Apex topped the leaderboard with 324 donors.

Some of the many images that Virginia Tech supporters shared on social media for Giving Day.
Some of the many images that Virginia Tech supporters shared on social media for Giving Day.

“I think it shows the tremendous energy and support of our alums for entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech,” explained Derick Maggard, executive director of Apex. “Starting with our advisory board, we have a group of alums that built amazing companies and have been successful with early-stage companies. These alums see and experience what we are building and they want to support and be involved in building the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

He continued, “Virginia Tech can be the national destination of choice for students desiring to create positive change through entrepreneurship and this is only possible with the support of our alums and donors who are willing to invest in our student entrepreneurs.

“These funds allow us to grow the impact we have through our experiential programs, provide grant funding to early-stage startup founders, connect our students to our experienced alum mentors, and more. Huge thanks to Jake Lutz for making this fun and for his wonderful impact at Virginia Tech and to all our donors who gave to support the many wonderful programs at VT.”

PRISM, Pamplin’s interdisciplinary ad agency, also received bonus funds on Giving Day, finishing second in the Jake Lutz Leaderboard Challenge. “This is an extraordinary win for all of Virginia Tech to have young alum so engaged through a program that only represents over 200 alums, as it is very competitive,” said Donna Wertalik, professor of practice in Marketing and founder of PRISM.

The second-place finish in the challenge netted the program an additional $1,750 which, according to Wertalik, will go toward establishing a fund. “Funding for student organizations is always important. Since PRISM does not charge dues, these funds will go to establishing a PRISM ‘Simply the Best’ fund. This fund will change lives, as it will lead to scholarships for students, more focus on diversity and inclusion, as well as east coast and west coast field visits.”

Another area of Pamplin that won big on Giving Day was Pamplin Engage, which provides undergraduate teaching support for online education. The program was able to unlock over $75,000 in additional funds because of a Giving Day challenge tied directly to the number of unique donors to Pamplin, which was made possible thanks to support from Brian Cook ’79, MBA ’81; Jeff Hartman ’79; Jim Hatch MACCT ’72; Donald Neff ’90; James Pearman ’70; Greg ’77 and Kathy Thompson; John ’70, MBA ’72 and Phyllis Thompson M.S. ’73; and Scott Wells ’91.

While the hope is that Pamplin and the larger Virginia Tech community will be able to come together next year in person for a more “traditional” Giving Day celebration, the success of the most recent Giving Day has shown that the Hokie spirit is alive and well, whether on campus or at home.