From the Nominator
On Aug. 4, 2020, there was a massive explosion in Beirut. It has been described as “one of the largest accidental ammonium nitrate explosions ever recorded” (www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02361-). More than 200 people died, 6,000 were injured, and 300,000 were made homeless. The explosion caused damage estimated to be more than $5 billion. Doctors, nurses, and staff at our medical center (AUBMC) treated more than 500 casualties within 24 hours of the explosion.
On Aug. 5, we launched a fundraising appeal for the medical center, including care of needy patients. We quickly turned our attention to the overwhelming needs in Beirut, which had been devastated by the explosion. AUB expanded outreach initiatives, and established new units to help with clean-up and repairs, perform building safety inspections, recycle material that could be re-used, and provide food and medications.
On Aug. 13, we sent a worldwide fundraising appeal for the AUB4Beirut Disaster Response, seeking support for AUBMC, urgent needs in Beirut, scholarships for students whose families had been affected by the explosion, and campus repairs.
This was not a fundraising campaign that we planned to launch. The extent of the damage caused by the Aug. 4 explosion, however, left us with no choice. We had to raise money–a lot of it–and from a worldwide community of alumni and friends that was itself reeling from the explosion, and suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic–and we did: We have so far received $9.3 million from 2,611 donors.
From the Judges
The AUB4Beirut Disaster Response was a university-wide response to a catastrophic disaster that impacted many members of the community. As one of the largest accidental ammonium nitrate explosions ever recorded, the American University of Beirut strategically implemented a global fundraising campaign that garnered incredible results. We were impressed with the community-building practices that were incorporated in such efforts, and how this campaign yielded more than $9M and 1,800+ first time donors, demonstrating the high regard in which the university is held by not just alumni, but by community members beyond campus.