The first gift I ever gave was $5. And it lit a fire in my heart
Anna Wales: “I want to ask, ‘What am I doing to make this a better place? How am I going to leave it better when I’m gone?’”
I started giving to Arizona State University when I was a single mother working three jobs and raising three children. It was 1997 and I had just started working at the newly opened Polytechnic campus — a small, friendly community where employees looked out for each other and for the well-being of students.
The founding provost of the campus, Charles Backus, modeled generosity and showed me that philanthropy begins with even the smallest of gifts. The first gift I ever gave, I signed up to donate $5 out of every paycheck through payroll deduction. I wanted to invest in a scholarship for our students on the Polytechnic campus.
ASU taught me how to give. At that moment, I thought, ‘I’m a donor!’ It lit a fire in my heart. It made me realize, ‘I can do this’ … Being able to invest back is the best part. I’m investing in my ‘family.’
Why I Give
This has been a place to grow my career. My contributions are a way of returning that investment that ASU is making in me. I have had an amazing career. I feel like the world has been my oyster. Giving back to the university is a small favor for the opportunities they gave me to grow professionally. Especially when I contribute to our students. They are so worth the investment.
I wish I could help create a culture of generosity at ASU. Instead of asking, ‘What is my employer going to do for me?’ I want to ask, ‘What am I doing to make this a better place? How am I going to leave it better when I’m gone?’
What I Care About
There are so many people at ASU doing so many amazing things. Anyone can find an opportunity to give. My family and I give to many different causes at ASU:
- Money for students, including three separate scholarships.
- Sun Devil Athletics.
- Student organizations.
- PitchFunder campaigns.
‘Why I Give’: Stories from ASU faculty and staff
- Ji Mi Choi: Why I choose to give at Arizona State University
- Wendy Peia Oakes: The reason I support future teachers now
- Keith Miller: They don’t have perfect SAT scores, but they deserve an opportunity
- Neal Lester: Here’s what I’ve learned about caring
- Flavio F. Marsiglia: ‘How can I ask others to help if I am not helping first?’
- Michelle Johnson: ‘I was one of those children who was from an underserved community’
- Colleen Jennings-Roggensack: The gift no one can take away