After 36 hours, the University of Connecticut raised over $200,000 through its first ever giving day event which began on Wednesday, April 4 and ran until noon yesterday.
“UConn Gives was a 36-hour campaign for UConn nation to show that they love and support the university through support to scholarships, programs, schools and colleges, athletics, really anything that they’re passionate about,” Jennifer Doak-Matthewson said.
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson is the Director of Giving Day and the Director of Engagement & Acquisitions at UConn Foundation. She said the grand total reached over $260,000.
“Yeah, it’s fantastic, $260,154. It’s really exciting for our first ever attempt at a giving day,” Doak-Mathewson said.
Individuals such as UConn alumni, students, faculty, staff, friends and family were invited to make a gift through donations in support of the university.
Those who donated had a direct say in what the gift went toward with 75 projects to choose from, Doak-Mathewson said. These projects were funds that a faculty or staff member volunteered to be a part of the campaign, she said, and that member was asked to reach out to peers to help with that particular project.
Some of the projects included cultural centers, the Homer Babbidge library, various schools of specific concentrations, the UConn Education Abroad program, general scholarships, regional campuses and many others.
However, Doak-Mathewson said, if there was a specific, unlisted fund a donor wanted to contribute to, that person had the opportunity to do so. This resulted in a thousand possible projects for UConn.
The top three projects that received the most unique gifts, according to the UConn giving day website, were the Natural Resources Conservation Academy with 228 gifts, the 100% UConn Law Challenge with 169 gifts and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with 131 gifts.
These three projects were top of the Leaderboard Challenge, for which they unlocked an additional gift from Funds for UConn, the number one spot winning a $5,000 gift, Doak-Mathewson said.
According to UConn President Susan Herbst, the event is a way to show the world that “we are a strong, proud and spirited UConn nation.”
“We have a strong, generous, passionate community; and we want to celebrate that generosity today and tomorrow through UConn Gives ,” Herbst said in a video created for the event.
Donations came from across the nation, according to the UConn giving day website.
Connecticut had the most donors from all 50 states with 1695 donors, but donations were given from states including all those in New England, California, Texas and Florida.
“It was really nice to see that celebration of UConn really band the country,” Doak-Mathewson said.
The campaign consisted of challenges in which donors were able to participate in, including the Leadershipboard Challenge and social media challenges.
For the social media challenges, alumni could post photos of when they were a student at UConn or students could post photos sporting their best UConn gear. Winners were picked at random, Doak-Mathewson said, and given a husky prize pack and the ability to direct $100 toward the fund of their choice.
“The second type of challenge was actually through the generosity of donors who said, ‘hey, I am going to take my gift and match it dollar for dollar or I am going to challenge my fellow alumni to raise 100 gifts and then I will contribute that gift to the fund that we’re raising money for,” Doak-Mathewson said.
Ambassadors of the campaign spread the word about it through social media as a way to raise even more money. By the end, there were over 120 ambassadors for the campaign, Doak-Mathewson said.
After signing up, ambassadors would be given a custom URL to track their results including the number of donors recruited and the total amount raised.
Throughout the event, twitter users used #UConnGives to encourage people to donate and to share the results of everyone’s efforts.
The UConn School of Business tweeted “THANK YOU to our supporters for #UConnGives! Your generosity helped us raise over $17,000 from 172 gifts to School of Business causes.”
According to Doak-Mathewson, the concept of a giving day is one other universities hold over the course of the year as a means of fundraising for all projects and initiatives.
“So, the nice thing about the giving day is that it highlights everyone. It highlights the library, it highlights opera, the ways that faculty go out into the community through projects like the Connecticut Writing Project…” Doak-Mathewson said.
Doak-Mathewson said she hopes to continue the campaign as an annual event. With no initial set goal, this first giving day has shown not only what can be done in terms of fundraising but also what can be improved upon, such as starting the campaign in the morning rather than at midnight, she said.
UConn Alumni celebrated the event’s final results by painting the spirit rock on Hillside Road with the hashtag and the names of all those who made a gift.
“Oh, I would absolutely say it was a success. We had so much energy and passion from everywhere…We’re excited to see it build and help it grow in the years to come,” Doak-Mathewson said.