(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – May 27, 2020) After California Lutheran University revamped its annual online fundraiser in response to the COVID-19 crisis, it raised more than three times as much money as last year and brought to light more than 100 stories of students, faculty and staff caring for others.
Cal Lutheran had planned a Giving Day for April 1. But in mid-March, as COVID-19 became a growing concern, University Advancement staff postponed it to May 6 so they could make changes to address the needs of people struggling during the pandemic. They turned it into Cal Lutheran Cares Day, focusing on sharing stories of how students, faculty and staff help others and adding a new fund supporting COVID-19-related needs to the list of causes to which people could contribute.
The campaign, which officially closed May 20, brought in 1,500 gifts totaling $1.93 million. Nearly $34,000 of that total went toward the new Cal Lutheran Relief Fund for students who have suffered loss because of the pandemic. More than $12,000 was raised for the Emergency Support Scholarship established last year for students facing unforeseen financial challenges, which now will include those related to COVID-19. The rest of the donations went to 19 other funds supporting various areas of the university including Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, the Presidential Scholarship and the School of Management.
“Cal Lutheran’s generous donors delivered a ‘virtual miracle’ to support our students in the middle of a global pandemic,” said Regina Biddings-Muro, vice president for University Advancement. “The community’s response to the funds established to support students experiencing hardships due to COVID-19 was remarkable. I want to thank each and every person who contributed to Cal Lutheran Cares Day, as well as those who took time to share their inspiring stories of care.”
People also could contribute to the campaign by sending in stories of caring acts by the Cal Lutheran community. More than 100 stories were shared on Cal Lutheran’s website and on social media. A 1990 alumnus recalled the Cal Lutheran president bringing him flowers in the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. A student wrote of her gratitude for food from the university’s Community Cupboard and a staff member checking to make sure she was OK during the pandemic. A 2018 alumnus told of his mother learning to use a sewing machine so she could make face coverings for essential workers and exceeding her goal of 50 masks to produce 700. Many students and alumni wrote about people and opportunities at Cal Lutheran that transformed their lives. Prospective students, parents and other supporters also shared stories.
“Cal Lutheran community members were not only generous in giving gifts, but also in taking the time to share how this is a truly special place,” said alumna Carrie Barnett, director of advancement marketing and digital philanthropy.