Students thank donors with handwritten letters

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UT celebrates Thanks Day at the Perry-Castañeda Library plaza in commemoration of UT donors. Students wrote thank you cards and celebrated with pizza.

Photo Credit: Erika Ramirez | Daily Texan Staff

Students wrote handwritten thank you cards for UT donors during the ninth annual UT Thanks Day. The two-day event started on Wednesday and continued Thursday morning outside the Perry-Castañeda Library.

The event, hosted by the University Development Office, gave participating students preaddressed cards and templates to thank donors for their contributions to the University. After the card was written and reviewed, students received a free slice of pizza, stickers and buttons.

Kate Harrison, director of donor relations and volunteer engagement for the development office, said UT Thanks Day is a chance for students to demonstrate their gratitude to donors. Harrison said the handwritten cards give donors a more personal connection to the University’s student perspective.  

“In this age of so much being electronic there is something nice about a tangible item, like holding it in your hand, seeing a student’s handwriting or seeing their class year,” Harrison said.

Raine Munkens, event coordinator and development specialist for donor relations and stewardship, said this year’s UT Thanks Day is on track to send more thank you cards to 6,840 donors, surpassing last year’s 5,927 cards. The receiving donors, which include first-time donors, consecutive donors and other supporters, contributed more than $4.3 million during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. 

Munkens said this year’s event aims to improve the quality of each card’s content by encouraging students to make them more personal and well-written.

“This year’s focus, we’re really trying to build up student awareness and education by trying to track the quality of the cards, because if the quality is better, then the students are understanding what they’re doing and why it’s important,” Munkens said.

UT Thanks Day is also a way to establish early relationships with first-time donors, Munkens said.

“(First-time donors are) a really crucial donor group at UT that needs to be thanked, so that they feel appreciated, they feel valued,” Munkens said. “We are so grateful for their investment in the University and (hope) that they continue their giving.”

Psychology freshman Lizbeth Cervera participated in the event and said this was her first time communicating with donors.  

“It’s pretty cool that they give us the opportunity to thank the people who let us become people who get to change the world,” Cervera said.

Electrical engineering junior Arman Khondker also filled out a thank you card on Wednesday.

“(The donors) invested in our future and I feel like just taking a few minutes to say thank you is always worth it,” Khondker said.