On Giving Tuesday, Universities Get a Boost

Michelle Ammirati by on Jan 21, 2016


Following the massive spending that occurs on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, which fell this season on December 1, stands out a day of global giving. The annual giving-back event, which originated in 2012, has its own website where participants can learn about the history of the day and the ideas behind the movement. The site promotes the event by asking people to donate either money, time, goods or a voice. In 2015, the day raised $116.7 million, with 1.08 million gifts and 698,961 donors. With 1.3 million social media mentions and 71 participating countries around the world, it is clear that Giving Tuesday is a successful celebration that has endless potential to grow and make an even larger global impact. Institutions of higher learning are particularly poised for success on Giving Tuesday, as their alumni can give back to an organization that’s had a lasting impact on their lives.

Giving Tuesday Website Homepage (Truncated)

In December, 12 institutions in the Alumni Monitor coverage group, including Brown, Penn State and George Washington, participated in Giving Tuesday through active fundraisers and other events. Three of these schools – Kenyon, Northwestern and Rutgers – went so far as to integrate microsites into their alumni platforms for the day.

Kenyon held a Bell-A-Thon, raising more than $70,000. Every hour, the institution rang the campus bell for recent donors and recognized them in a live broadcast. Each broadcast also featured performances from student groups and faculty interviews. Alumni had access to the broadcast through a microsite called Chime In, which hosted a list of events, a giving link and a Twitter feed for #KenyonChimesIn.

Northwestern advertised its drive using the hashtag #CATSGiveBack, raising more than $500,000 from more than 1,600 donors. The school created a microsite for the giving campaign and included links and promotional videos alongside social media posts and updates. Notably, Northwestern added a number of prize incentives for donors, though incentivizing a philanthropic day seems counterintuitive to the intended altruistic foundation of Giving Tuesday. However, the institution did focus on students as well by updating its CATalyzer crowdfunding platform for #CATSGiveBack. For December 1, specific projects went live on the platform for the day and all projects received more than the 100% funding goal.

Rutgers held its first ever Giving Day, which raised over $1 million through a 24-hour challenge. The Giving Day microsite featured a live Twitter feed for #RUGivingDay. While holding the day in conjunction with Giving Tuesday possibly garnered more support from people in the spirit of the season, the school lost an opportunity to hold a separate giving day at another point in the year. Typically, schools host annual Giving Day in the late winter or spring. Adding Giving Tuesday in addition to an annual spring event could have resulted in a larger donor turnout over the course of the academic year.

With a worldwide day of giving, there is a lot of opportunity for institutions not only to raise money but to make an impact as well. Of the 12 schools that participated on December 1, 2015, Kenyon stands out for its creative take on Giving Tuesday. Its multimedia approach, which incorporated both on-campus participation and digital engagement, exemplified the idea of contributing more than just money by having students and faculty donate their time and voices throughout the day.

Kenyon Bell-A-Thon Chime In Microsite

For more information on Alumni Monitor and our research on alumni outreach and engagement, please contact Dana Peterson at dpeterson@corporateinsight.com or visit us at alumnimonitor.corporateinsight.com.

About The Author

Michelle Ammirati

Michelle is an Analyst for Healthcare Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more