On April 21, 2021, the Augusta University family — alumni, faculty, staff, students, retirees and the community at large — will have a chance to give back to the institution they love by participating in Augusta Gives, a one-day giving event.
Last year’s inaugural event, postponed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raised $1,043,330 from 505 individual gifts.
“It was above and beyond our expectations,” says Kelly Schulte, director for annual giving. “People have so much going on in their lives, and we understand that, which is why we were blown away by the total we were able to raise that day, because it was right in the middle of everything.”
This year’s format will be similar. Participants who log in to augustagives.com will be able to access stories from each of the colleges and schools and units. These stories outline priorities and giving opportunities, and from these, a gift is just a click away.
The site features these stories, but also a map pinpointing the origin of each donation (last year’s furthest was London, and while that was exciting, Schulte hopes to see more participation this year from across the U.S. map, too).
“There will also be some participatory challenges,” she says. “Making it fun like that helps to get people involved, and so we’ve made it easy to share the URL and we also have a hashtag (#augustagives), because really, social media is where it gets legs.”
All elements for this year’s Augusta Gives Day will be virtual, though Schulte looks forward to the day when they can build engagement through in-person events.
Recognizing the value of the education they received and the important role Augusta University plays in the community, longtime supporters Nick and Beth Evans gave a generous lead gift during last year’s Augusta Gives Day, creating the Nick W. and Beth P. Evans Family Golf Support Endowment. The fund provides resources for both the men’s and women’s golf programs to use for coaching support, scholarships and other programmatic needs.
Though the Evanses have contributed often to many corners of the university, including various scholarship funds, the Georgia Cancer Center and helping to create the women’s golf team several years ago, Nick says the timing of this gift just felt right.
“There are a lot of things I love in my life, starting with my family,” he says. “But other things I love are Augusta University, the Augusta community, education and golf, and this gift touches all of that. We want to help make it easier for others and hope that they love this place as much as we do.”
Nick (BA ’72) earned a golf scholarship the first year they were awarded and worked in the Student Center’s kitchen; Beth (BA ’71) received a scholarship for a year while she was studying to be an elementary school teacher.
“It was important to me because I really wanted to be a teacher and this was the only way I was going to be able to do it,” she says. “I kept saying to Nick, ‘I want to pay that back … I want to give somebody else that opportunity’ and we never could when we were young, so I’m very grateful that we’ve been able to give back to the school now.”
Giving back, she says, is especially important as the university continues to grow.
“This campus is so beautiful and offers the students so many opportunities,” she says. “I’m proud to see students from other places choosing Augusta University for their education. They enrich our entire community.”
While the growth may be dramatic, Nick says it hasn’t changed the school’s fundamental role as the hometown school for Augustans.
“It has become something of a destination school and it does have many more opportunities, but it still serves this community greatly and it is so important that any student that is in this community can get their education here,” says the Butler High School graduate.
Nick also finds the current leadership inspiring.
“Dr. Keel is absolutely the right person at the right time and is providing tremendous leadership at a crucial time for Augusta and at Augusta University,” he says. “His leadership has meant so much to the university and this community, and giving to Augusta University is a way we can support his work as well.”
Both hope their gift encourages others to participate in Augusta Gives, and also to explore ways to invest in the university’s future through their long term financial and estate plans.
“We have been blessed and are honored we can give back. We hope our gifts will make a difference in someone’s life as they work to get their degree here,” Nick says. “And while doing that, if it encourages other people to join in and give, too, then we’re very pleased with that. We hope it does encourage others.”
“I hope people will open their hearts and their checkbooks to help the students and the school grow,” Beth says. “And I hope no matter where the students go, they’ll remember where they received their education and give back.”
This kind of generosity is at the heart of Augusta Gives.
“The inaugural Augusta Gives held this past October was a wonderful success for Augusta University and AU Health,” said Debbie Vaughn, vice president for Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement. “It was truly a team effort, with members of Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement, along with many university partners, going above and beyond to be certain we were communicating our messages to the university community with a strong social media presence, plenty of volunteers making calls, and even socially distanced and masked, in-person canvassing. We were especially thankful for the lead gift given by Nick and Beth Evans.”
And according to Schulte, participating is as easy as Give, Share and Post: Make a gift online at augustagives.com; use #augustagives to help spread the word on social media; and take a selfie showing your Augusta University pride and post it to #augustagives.