MV Alumni: Giving Back to Move Forward

When it comes to college marching bands associated with Division-1 football programs, The Marching Virginians are a fairly young organization. The Blue Band at Penn State can trace its roots back to 1899.  Florida State’s Marching Chiefs go back to the 30s and 40s. The Highty-Tighties were established on campus in 1893, but Virginia Tech’s all-civilian marching band didn’t arrive on the scene until 1974.

So what does this have to do with MV alumni donating to the MVs?

Young organizations = young alumni. Many young alumni can’t afford to donate thousands of dollars to Virginia Tech right now. Many of our alumni are just reaching retirement age, putting their kids through grade school and college, working their way up the corporate ladder, or just starting to navigate their first job. While other groups may have older, more prosperous alumni who can provide support, the MVs have many folks who need to hang on to their money for now.

Then how did the MVs end up on the 2018 VT Giving Day leaderboards? Why do the MVs keep surprising University Advancement and others with our persistence and success in fundraising?

What truly makes us special is a diverse collection of alumni who can connect most of their fond college memories (and even current friend circles) to a single college activity: participation in The Marching Virginians. Personally, I can’t look at a photo from my wedding or browse social media without seeing the faces and names of the amazing people I met during my time in the MVs.

Yep, this is an actual photo from my wedding. Everyone was in The Marching Virginians and Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma except the groomsman on the far left and the flower girl (who is now a teenager and has marched with the MVs at Band Day the last two years)

Yep, this is an actual photo from my wedding. Everyone was in The Marching Virginians and Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma except the groomsman on the far left and the flower girl (who is now a teenager and has marched with the MVs at Band Day the last two years)

It’s not a secret that The Marching Virginians mean a lot of things to a lot of people. This very blog is full of stories from the current MVs about it. Similar stories are swapped each year during our annual MV Alumni Day event as well. And for many of our alumni, it’s those strong feelings about our time in the MVs that drive us to want to give back. We want to share our experience and insure that it just keeps getting better and better for those who come after us.

But how can we do that if we feel like we don’t have much to give right now? What if now is just a hard time to give?

Some MV alumni give monetarily and others give through service. Either way, the answer to the question of “how can I give when I can’t give very much?” is working together, and it’s actually been our greatest strength for a while.

During last year’s VT Giving Day event, 94 donors came forward and donated over $10,000 to the MV Annual Fund.  That was enough to take the #1 spot on the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences leaderboard for the largest number of donations made AND the largest amount given.  Our participation even put the college in the #1 spot for all of Giving Day.


94 donors giving $10,000 in one day - that’s an average of just over $100 per donor.

Where else have we seen this theme of MV Alumni teaming up to make big things happen?

  • MV Alumni have worked together multiple times to buy entire sets of instruments.

  • MV Alumni helped to build an endowment that is reaching a million dollars. Each year funds generated by the existence of this endowment supplement the MV operating budget.

  • MV Alumni raised enough money to get Virginia Tech to help us BUILD A BUILDING.

When we work together, even the smallest contributions are huge. And don’t worry - I haven’t forgotten all the students, families, and other fans who have chosen to donate their time and money. Each and every donor is an important part of the team that supports The Marching Virginians.

So here we are. The University is about to hold its second VT Giving Day, and we’ve been issued a challenge:

One of our alumni has generously offered to personally donate $5,000 if 200 individuals make a donation to the MV Annual Fund during the 2019 VT Giving Day event.

This is perfect! Funds generated for the MV Annual Fund may be added to the endowment, used to offset costs of new equipment, or maybe even for Phase 2 of The Marching Virginians Center someday (hey, we can dream, right?)

The minimum donation for Giving Day is $5. Can you spare $5 to be one of the 200? Would you be willing and able to give more? Every little bit helps.

I remember when the idea of a practice facility seemed impossible. I remember when the folks with their names on Distler tower didn’t quite understand what an endowment was, but they gave anyway because we knew it would help in the future. Every time we choose to give back, we help the MVs take another step forward as we continue to build the future.

So just like so many other challenging things I’ve seen the MVs and their Alumni do - can drives, high school exhibitions, charity events, and fundraisers - we can make a difference if we work together. We are The Spirit of Tech.