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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

A traditional picnic with a philanthropic twist


Picnic Day to be paired with first-ever UC Davis day of giving

As students hurry about their days debating whether or not to forgo another dinner and instead spend money going out with friends, it can be hard to think about donating cash to charity efforts around campus. However, organizations such as We Are Aggie Pride and the Telephone Outreach Program (TOP) allow students to donate their time and unique talents to various philanthropic efforts benefitting fellow Aggies in lieu of money.

While some students may not have time throughout the year to dedicate to these operations, all students are invited to volunteer at UC Davis’ first-ever Give Day and gather support from donors and alumni for their favorite areas on campus that might not have enough funding. Give Day begins at noon on Friday, April 21 and will run overnight until 5 p.m. on Picnic Day, allowing 29 hours to showcase the positive impact philanthropy has on UC Davis.

“Hosting Give Day in conjunction with Picnic Day is a wonderful opportunity for UC Davis to bring our campus community, friends and alumni [in] from all over the world who know and love Davis while increasing awareness for our university,” said Michelle Poesy, the senior director of annual and special gifts for the Office of University Development.

UC Davis has a long tradition of receiving donations and support from alumni and friends of the university, but Give Day is an effort to recruit donors’ support for every aspect of the university in a widely publicized and organized manner. By hosting the event in conjunction with Picnic Day, Poesy hopes this will rally enthusiasm and raise awareness about everything from athletics to undergraduate research on campus.

“Donors are going to be able to give to any of the 30 participating groups of their choice,” Poesy said. “We want people to learn more about UC Davis and support the areas they’re most passionate about. Not everybody’s going to be passionate about the same thing, so we are encouraging donors to support whatever it is they find the most special about UC Davis.”

Give Day is not only for the benefit of UC Davis students — it is also made possible by students. Student callers for the Telephone Outreach Program (TOP) raise awareness for the event by calling donors and alumni to keep them updated leading up to the event. Students can also get involved with facilitating Give Day by running information booths, handing out free Aggie gear and participating in the Picnic Day Parade.

“Perhaps the most important way students can get involved is by becoming social ambassadors for Give Day and sharing the word about UC Davis through their social networks,” Poesy said. “This is a great way for students to use their social media skills to volunteer for the event because by sharing photos and Tweeting, we can grow and increase the awareness around the world.”

According to Jason Wohlman, the associate vice chancellor for University Development, Give Day will engage and energize the campus and make it known how important philanthropic support is to running UC Davis. Most importantly, he hopes it will create a culture of philanthropy so when students become alumni, they are more likely to give back to UC Davis, having seen and experienced that culture.

“The physical resources are helpful, but philanthropic support is important for a sense of cohesiveness, pride and connectivity to the institution that comes along with giving,” Wohlman said. “Aggie Pride is real beyond just the football field and the basketball court. It can be found in all of our classrooms and library, and it very much resonates with our alumni as well.”

Footprints of philanthropy are found all over campus, from Maurice Gallagher’s $10 million gift that is now the Graduate School of Management to the Mondavi family’s unwavering support for wine and food studies. Beyond these, thousands of students receive scholarships and it is important to understand that this financial support is backed by individual donors who believe in the educational mission of UC Davis.  

“People aren’t giving because there’s a need,” Wohlman said. “People are giving because they have a passion for what’s being done here and they believe in the work of our campus and the future of our student body. Some might be giving because of the quality of research that’s being done here, while others are grateful clients or patients.”

While it might not be financially feasible to donate monetarily as a college student, Wohlman and Poesy encourage students to donate their time and talents to the parts of campus they feel most passionate about on Give Day and throughout their time at UC Davis.  

Odisea Macias, a fourth-year communication major and managerial economics minor is using her marketing and sales talents to give back and thank UC Davis for all of its support throughout her undergraduate career. Starting out as a student caller for TOP, Macias gained experience building relationships with donors and alumni and now has a marketing internship with the Office of University Development.

“I’ve been really blessed by coming to UC Davis, and the university has been very generous to me and my family,” Macias said. “Right now I can’t financially help support another person or help students with their tuition, but if I can find ways to get a donor to contribute and see the amazing things that are happening here, then the possibilities for other students to get support will increase too.”

In addition to reaching out to prospective donors in order to give back to future Aggies who may need financial support, Macias has been planning and working out the details of Give Day since early February.

“On Give Day itself, we will start to see the actual impact of these contributions, but many effects may not take place until way down the road when current students have graduated,” Macias said. “Future Aggies will be able to see the effects of each Give Day and will experience even better results. Getting more students involved in enhancing our campus and making a difference would benefit everybody who comes to UC Davis.”

Macias is creating the precise culture and community of philanthropy that Wohlman argued is so important.

“If I can help people be informed and become passionate about the things we have here at UC Davis, then I’m creating a big networking game of giving back,” Macias said. “Donors to UC Davis were able to help me through financial means and I’m not able to do that right now, but if we can find creative solutions to that same problem then this will benefit everybody down the line.”


Written by: Gillian Allen — features@theaggie.org


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