Virtual Donor Appreciation Event 2020 – The Garden of Gratitude
“Welcome to the University’s first-ever virtual donor appreciation event!” Professor Tan Eng Chye (’85), President, National University of Singapore (NUS) greeted guests warmly before an evening of captivating performances, heartfelt sharing and lively e-toasting ensued.
The annual NUS Giving Donor Appreciation Event, designed to thank our loyal donors and celebrate the positive impact that they have made to the University, has gone digital for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this year’s virtual event, guests could enjoy the evening’s programme from the comfort of their home and were encouraged to join in the fun by venturing around the different sections of the website themed the ‘Garden’.
In the Garden, guests could explore, interact and participate in a variety of activities at the Canopy, Harvests, Orchards, Sanctuary and Meadow.
The Canopy, where the night's proceedings took place, was the main stage where one could watch the evening’s highlights and groove along to the musical performances. Guests could also interact by sharing their thoughts and opinions in the live comment box during the event.
At Harvests and Sanctuary, guests could have an overview of the impact of the gifts received in the financial year 2019 and read more on the students’ stories of learning, growing, and in turn, giving back to the society.
Lastly, the Orchards and Meadow was where one could be a part of the night’s programme by leaving messages of gratitude or well wishes to the community and taking photos with specially-created filters as a keepsake to commemorate the special day.
The virtual NUS Giving Donor Appreciation Event, an all-new experience for many, was driven by the vision to create a meaningful gathering for the community amidst these challenging times.
Setting the tone for the night’s wonderful celebration, the NUS Alumni Orchestra opened the night’s programme with a warm and harmonic classical piece.
In his welcome address, Prof Tan thanked the donors, recognising their contributions and continued support: “2020 has been marked by unprecedented challenges and we all have had to adapt to new norms and make adjustment to the way we live, work and communicate; but amid the uncertainties I am greatly heartened that the support of our donors has been strong and unwavering.”
Sharing the story of Mr David Chia (’21), recipient of the Chen Su Lan Bursary and a Year 3 Political Science student at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Prof Tan cited Mr Chia as one of the beneficiaries of the donors’ generosity and illustrated how the kindness has since been brought forward.
Coming from a family of six and with three siblings, Mr Chia, grew up in neither the easiest nor the most conducive environment. Mr Chia and his family were at risk of being evicted from their home at times, and they never had the money for tuition or enrichment classes. Receiving the Bursary was “like a breath of fresh air” for him as it allowed him to continue with his studies and set aside time to help other young people like him.
The focus was then turned to Mr Chia who gave a speech to thank the donors: “I hope you recognise that your gift is not just a number but it is a lifeline for someone; someone like me. My appreciation is for you, and for the NUS community. I want to appreciate you for giving me and many other students the chance to shine. I hope that you see beyond the statistics. I want you to see my story and know the impact of your giving. It is more than you imagine. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you.”
Other highlights of the night include jazz classics by Ms Lou, a classic vintage vocalist and songwriter who used to be a member of the NUS Jazz Band and soothing R&B renditions of pop numbers by ShiLi & Adi, a popular NUS alumni band and one of the top vocal duo in the industry.
Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost, closed the night with stories of optimism and hope as a result of the generosity of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Your invariable support has enabled our financially vulnerable students to continue their studies without fear. One such story is of Candice Tan, a student at the NUS Business School. Her family suffered a huge loss and was left without a source of income when her father, the sole breadwinner, passed away this year. Thankfully, because of the NUS Student Solidarity Fund, we’re able to provide Candice a one-time cash grant to assist her and her family. Candice is not alone, we have helped more than 3000 students in a similar manner this year. Thank you all for contributing generously to the fund.”
Prof Ho also spoke about the NUS Traineeships Programme and the NUS Resilience and Growth Innovation Challenge which has benefited more than 500 graduates and funded 30 projects respectively thus far.
The night’s programme concluded with Prof Tan, Prof Ho and Ms Jenny Lee, Vice President, Endowment and Institutional Development, NUS Development Office, raising their glasses in gratitude for the generosity and continuous support of the donors, for the partners and performers of the event, and to good health and a better tomorrow.
For information on making a gift to NUS, visit nus.edu/302N2rh or contact us at 1800-DEVELOP (1800-338-3567).