Cornell’s sixth Giving Day nets more than $7M

Cornell Giving Day brought generous Cornell community members together from around the world to raise $7,053,386 from 10,145 donors in just 24 hours – including emergency funds to help low-income students cope with challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Philanthropy has been essential to Cornell’s success since 1865,” said Fred Van Sickle, vice president for Alumni Affairs and Development (AAD). “Giving Day is a unique opportunity for the Cornell community to come together to support our students and programs. The collective impact Cornellians have had in just 24 hours is tremendous, and we’re excited to see the impact of these investments.”

Given the major impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, a focus for many this year was the Student Access fund within Student and Campus Life. The fund provides grants to Cornell students who are first generation and/or from low-income backgrounds to help cover emergency expenses that may not be covered through financial aid or other university resources.

Nicole DelToro ’91 matched Giving Day gifts to the access fund up to $10,000, and 229 donors gave a total of $36,864, providing immediate emergency funding for students in need. This aid is especially important as students prepare to leave campus and transition to online classes for the remainder of the semester following spring break.

Vijay Pendakur, the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students, shared his gratitude. 

“I am so thankful for the generosity of the Cornell community during this unprecedented time,” he said. “This additional support for the Access Fund will allow us to help many more students as they face uncertainties and unexpected challenges.”

Alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends from across the globe made Giving Day 2020 a success. Donors from 46 countries and all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., unlocked the “Big Red, White and Blue Challenge” to provide an extra $2,000 for undergraduate scholarships.

The College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University Library, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Student and Campus Life, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art all succeeded in the “Raise the Bar” challenge for the second year, each winning an extra $2,125 in funds for their students and programs.

Several support areas raised an additional $2,500 to $100,000 in college-specific challenges and matching gifts. Social media challenges resulted in several thousand dollars won for multiple colleges and other areas.

More than 180 volunteers participated as Giving Day Fundraising Champions from around the world, asking their classmates and friends to support funds or causes they care about. Peer-to-peer outreach has been a hallmark of Cornell’s noteworthy fundraising approach for decades and, in the digital era, it’s an essential part of Giving Day success.

“This a remarkable result given the unprecedented events of the past week,” said Andrew Gossen, executive director for digital in AAD. “It is testimony to the strength and loyalty of the Cornell community, which never fails to rally behind Cornell and fellow Cornellians in need.”

Kaitlin Provost is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.

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Rebecca Valli