At about 9:05 a.m., on Tuesday, March 19 — the feast day of St. Joseph, for fans of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange — Michelle Dean ’84 went to the LMU Day of Giving website and gave her first gift of the day. After that, there was no stopping her.

Dean, a member of the LMU Board of Trustees, had been briefed beforehand about the effort. When the day came, she was ready to act. But she hadn’t made a list, she says, or even much of a plan. “When I opened the giving page, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Dean went to the site’s pull-down menu, finding a lengthy list of choices. Near the top, she quickly spotted the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts — her daughter Bridget had graduated from BCLA, so Dean made her first contribution. She glanced down farther, then made a second gift.

“Once I started, I’d see another, and I thought, ‘Oh, I have to give money for this program.’” Then, men’s basketball, women’s basketball — Dean, who is devoted to LMU athletics, says she realized she had to give equally to both, because she’s committed to both. Two more gifts — that brought her total to four.

“I didn’t give big amounts,” Dean says, “but I knew that the number of gifts that came in might trigger other gifts from the community.”

She went on. Communication and Fine Arts — Dean volunteers with a dance organization in Orange County that helps young people develop their talent and improve their chances to go to college. Click. Entrepreneurship — a family occupation. Click. The School of Film and Television. Click. She got to Student Affairs. Click No. 12, an even dozen.

The whole process took her only about 5 minutes. “I just kept going,” Dean says, yet never with a plan. Still, she realized that she wasn’t acting entirely on impulse.

“If something strikes me, I’m going to get behind it if I sense someone’s passion, especially someone’s passion for taking LMU forward to the next step where the university needs to be.” That seems about right: When Dean talks about the programs she cares about, she’s as likely to point out the compelling vision of the person in charge as much as the benefits of the program itself, from president to dean to director to coach.

After Dean’s fit of, well, let’s call it binge-giving, she tracked progress throughout the rest of the day, checking even at 11 p.m. She had shared the project through her Facebook and Instagram accounts, knowing most of her friends, many of whom are also LMU alumni, would see the effort underway.

Dean says now that when she looks back on the day’s work she appreciated that people could make a difference without having to feel they needed to give a lot. She especially appreciated the freedom to make choices, she recalls. “I got to say where my money would go.”

LMU’s Day of Giving, an annual, one-day call for gifts, elicited an overwhelming response: $$936K raised, up from $375K last year, produced by 4,290 gifts. It was the kind of success that whets the appetite. On to next year, and a better year.

This article appeared in the spring 2019 (Vol. 9, No. 1) issue of LMU Magazine.