Spreading an Attitude of Gratitude

Thank a Donor Day
by Melissa Lee

Our donors change lives every day.  From capital projects to technology, research assistance to student organizations, each student is touched by private giving.  Since 2012, Donor Relations and Stewardship has dedicated one day each spring to celebrate donor support and remind our students that their experience at UGA would not be the same without it.

Thank a Donor Day takes over Tate Plaza on a Thursday morning each April. Balloons fill the space, music fills the air, and a team of 40+ volunteers coordinate activities to thank our donors in creative ways.  Students can sign a giant card, write a note, and decorate a thank-you poster. “As the students come through the stations, they tell us that they are grateful for the opportunity to let donors know how much they appreciate their support,” says Nancy Butler from the College of Education, “Our student ambassadors tell us it is one of their favorite days of the year.”

Thank A Donor Day at Tate Plaza

Jordan Dotson, who has been coordinating the event since 2016, is now preparing for the University’s eighth Thank a Donor Day. “Our original goal was to educate students on the importance of private giving. I think we have accomplished that and so much more. The participation has grown, the awareness has increased, and the students’ excitement is contagious.”

2018’s Thank a Donor Day surpassed all goals that Donor Relations set for the event. Participation grew 24% since 2017, reaching over 960 students!  “We gain so much from Thank a Donor Day,” says Tony Stringer, “Not only is the collateral used throughout the year in our messaging, but the schools and colleges have really taken it to the next level.  They participate in contests and create meaningful messages specific to their donors.” Several units use photography from the day for Endowment Reports, social media, and special acknowledgements.

Students are encouraged to participate by collecting a prize at each station. But at its heart, Thank a Donor Day remains a sincere practice in gratitude. Shearron Hamlin experienced her first Thank a Donor Day in 2018, “Seeing the students take extra time and consideration when writing a letter or recording a video message verifies that what we are doing is making a difference. These small gestures of gratitude make a huge impact on the continued achievements of our University.”

“Each year, I am blown away by the enthusiasm,” says Calli Choe, “This is much more than stewardship. We are hopeful that Thank a Donor Day is an effective way to begin the cycle of gratitude and philanthropy in the lives of our students and the UGA community.”

Student with a Hand-made "Thank You" Sign