With Valentine’s Day coming up, love is in the air right here on campus, with #WPILovesDay.
Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, is a day Tracy Baldelli and the rest of the University Advancement team have chosen to create a “celebration of love for our donors, our community, and our proud tradition of giving back.”
Each year, an event is held to educate the campus community and beyond of the rich tradition of philanthropy at WPI, and to dedicate time to thank our donors of the institution—whether they be alumni, parents, or students … faculty and staff, or the community—and to celebrate the impact donors have at WPI every single day, says Baldelli, assistant director of annual giving.
“We’ll be thanking our volunteers of the university, too,” she adds, as part of the event, which runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Rubin Campus Center. “We take over the main level of the campus center; it’s hard to miss us.”
Legacy of giving
A Giving Day was held in 2015, WPI’s first event of this kind, in support of the new Foisie Innovation Studio. The following year, #mywpilegacy was held on campus to educate the entire campus community about the impact donors have at WPI; every named space on campus was tagged and students participated in thank-you activities to share their gratitude. On Giving Tuesday, last November, WPI had its second Giving Day in support of the WPI Fund. Our most successful one yet, $300,000 was raised from over 1,300 donors, including alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff.
"This year’s #WPIloves event culminates past events to celebrate the love we have for our community, our donors, and our tradition of giving back," says Baldelli. "Partners across campus such as Athletics, Residential Life, and Student Alumni Society have produced videos to share their thank you messages with our donors."
It’s also an opportunity for a little education, she adds. For instance, some members of the WPI community don’t realize that WPI is a nonprofit, a touchpoint that can get lost on a busy campus between classes, projects, and extracurricular activities.
#WPILoves day will include food, giveaways, and, of course, activities to thank donors. A new tool being used this year—ThankVid, which was created by Adam Wilbur ’06 and Tom Lynch ’05—will allow students to send a thank you video to donors and volunteers in live time via email. “We’re very excited to collaborate with our alumni on this portion of the day, as it makes everything come full circle,” says Baldelli.
“I’m sure all donors have different stories … on why they give back,” says Myles Walton '97, at the #WPIloves website. “It remains our privilege to support the university and its students.”
“Our events are evolving each year with the hope to connect the dots for the campus community that philanthropy is the reason WPI is here today, and will be the reason WPI students and alumni continue to change the world in the years to come.” -Tracy Baldelli
George Messenger ’51 graduated from WPI when it was called Worcester Tech. He and his wife and the university created the George and Priscilla Messenger Fund. When he attended the school, he said, he did not have much money. He paid back the university after he began working, but university officials would not accept any interest on the loan, he says in a video interview at the website.
“I got so much help from so many people,” he says, “I am trying to pay it back.” WPI's tradition of giving back also involves strong volunteerism, says Baldelli. Alumni and parents get involved by serving on alumni committees, coming back to campus to speak about their industry or other topics, or helping lead and advise student projects. #WPIloves is a day to celebrate all WPI donors and volunteers for all they do.
“Our events are evolving each year with the hope to connect the dots for the campus community that philanthropy is the reason WPI is here today," says Baldelli, "and will be the reason WPI students and alumni continue to change the world in the years to come.
“The Office of Lifetime Engagement is excited to be working with multiple MQP groups this year to help us strengthen our community and culture about philanthropy and the role that it plays here at WPI," she says. "We hope to have more touchpoints with students before they become alumni of WPI, with the hope that they too will take part in our strong tradition of giving back.”
- By Susan Shalhoub