In its third year, Elon Day continued its upward trend of breaking the previous year’s record donations. This year, the university received 3,749 total gifts, an increase of more than 1,000 from 2015.
According to Assistant Vice President of University Advancement John Barnhill, the university was not surprised by the record-setting amount of donations from alumni, parents, faculty and students alike. Elon Day, since its inception, has been the largest day of giving in University history.
Despite much of the focus on the amount of money the school raises, Barnhill said the goal of Elon Day is not to raise record-breaking sums of money.
“It’s really about making an impact and the people that are making gifts on this day believe in this place and they want other students in the future to experience what they experienced when they were students, or parents want future students to experience what their students did,” Barnhill said. “It’s a pay-it-forward model.”
Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences was the school to receive the most donations at around $80,000. It was followed by the School of Communications, Love School of Business, School of Education, School of Law and School of Health Sciences.
Elon Day used to be celebrated as Founder’s Day before the university’s 125th anniversary three years ago. The administration then decided to shift the day’s focus.
“Elon Day basically focuses on bringing the entire community together for a day of giving, and a day to build pride in the university,” Barnhill said.
Students were encouraged to wear maroon and gold university apparel as a symbol of school spirit. Barnhill said social media played a significant role in increasing excitement about the annual celebration this year.
The university advertises the date fair in advance, which means they send information to alumni and parents and tell them to save the date. This year's advertising materials included a brochure that could be opened up as a banner.
"People would hold up [the banners] and do #ElonDay and take a picture of that banner and then tweet it out, use it on social media, change their Facebook posts and all those things," Barnhill said.
He added how social media is especially important in creating a presence for the university for members of the community who cannot be on campus for Elon Day.
“People from all over the world are sending in pictures with their Elon sweatshirts on, standing in front of the Eiffel Tower,” he said. “If you went on the website and looked at the social media feed, you’d be shocked.”