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Giving Day to direct support to myriad Cornell causes


Cornell Giving Day 2017 is March 14, one 24-hour period for alumni, parents and friends to come together to support the university.

“Now in its third year, Giving Day is a special moment for Cornell,” said Fred Van Sickle, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “For one day, we reconnect with one another as Cornellians. Our alumni, friends and parents show their deep commitment through their support for the university’s vital work in a myriad of important areas.”

On Giving Day 2016, Cornell raised $6.1 million from 10,100 gifts made by 7,743 donors. More than 1 million people connected digitally through social media and the website

“This year, we hope to surpass the number of gifts and donors from last year,” said Nicole Cook, director of marketing and participation for Cornell Annual Giving Programs. The day is celebratory and accessible, she said, bringing together the whole Cornell community: alumni, parents, friends, faculty, staff and students.

“All gifts – no matter the size – count on Giving Day,” said Cook. “Donors see the impact of their gifts immediately as the total goes up and realize the power of coming together to make a big difference for Cornell.

“You can give to any area of Cornell,” she added, “so it’s a great way to support a special project, favorite department or program, or provide essential additional support for college and unit Annual Funds.”

Giving Day 2017 will highlight the university’s colleges and schools and areas of special interest. Each college and unit has a page on, and the new search feature invites site visitors to find and support their passion among more than 100 choices.

“The new platform allows us to share the good work of so many small groups – student project teams and diversity-focused student groups,” said Tony Simione, assistant director of alumni affairs and development for the College of Engineering. “We hope this year’s many opportunities to engage with smaller groups of the student population will excite our alumni.”

Peter Cronin, associate dean for alumni affairs and development for Cornell Law School, said many alumni, parents and friends find their “home” and passion in a particular college, school or program. “It’s a natural outcome of the mammoth size and scope of Cornell University and the desire on the part of donors to understand what their gifts are doing and the impact they are making,” he said.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences hung banners this week to boost on-campus publicity for Giving Day. Sharon Detzer ’88, associate dean for alumni affairs and development, said the college has special events planned for the senior class and students.

In keeping with the excitement of giving during one special day, hourly challenges will motivate and celebrate participation among various groups, including students, international donors, faculty and staff. There’s a social media challenge and a challenge for most Annual Fund gifts from recent graduates. The first and last gift will win challenge money for that donor’s college or unit.

“I think the hourly challenges will add another layer of excitement to this year’s Giving Day,” said Scott Pesner ’87, director of engagement and the Annual Fund at CALS. “It not only allows the schools to focus on specific hours and targets, but it also provides healthy competition among the schools to increase participation among their alumni and supporters in creative ways. I think you’re going to see a lot of fun around specific challenge hours.”

GiveGab, an Ithaca-based nonprofit online giving platform founded by two Cornell alumni, provides the new, expansive web experience for Giving Day 2017.

Kate Klein is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.

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Melissa Osgood