From the Nominator
Many universities celebrate Giving Day. The American University of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon, is–we believe–the first university in the world to “celebrate” a Giving Year. This was not something we planned to do or that we want to do again. It was necessitated by an unprecedented series of events: nationwide protests beginning in fall 2019; devaluation of the local currency; cancellation of student loans by local banks; COVID-19; the economic collapse of the country; and “one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history.”
These events affected everyone in our community–and posed an existential threat to our university. We had to raise money–and do it from a constituency that had also been directly impacted. And we did.
We launched a worldwide Solidarity Appeal in November 2019 for scholarships and needy patients seeking care at our medical center. Four months later, we established the AUBMC Corona Response Fund to support the Pandemic Evaluation Clinic and Center and COVID-19 patients. On May 9, 2020, we sent a third appeal seeking support for “the most vulnerable members of our AUB community” and to “help assure the survival of the university and its medical center.” On Aug. 5, within 24 hours of the Beirut port explosion, we launched the AUBMC Disaster Response.
The results were extraordinary, and a tribute to our alumni and friends: We raised more money for financial aid than in any previous year, and received gifts from a record number of first-time donors.