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?’”

Anna Wales: Business relations coordinator, Arizona State University Polytechnic campus

My Story

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:

“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,” says Anna Wales.

‘Why I Give’: Stories from ASU faculty and staff

asufoundation.org/campaignASU

ASU Foundation, one of Arizona’s oldest nonprofits, raises and invests private contributions to Arizona State University. https://www.asufoundation.org/

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