Cornellians gather in Willard Straight Hall to celebrate Giving Day 2019.

Organizers raising the stakes for Giving Day 2020

March 12 will mark Cornell’s sixth Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising celebration in which Cornellians come together to support the areas they care most deeply about – and engage in some friendly competition.

Last year, colleges and units participated in a “Raise the Bar” challenge, competing against themselves to increase their number of donors from the previous year. This resulted in additional funds for many areas; Giving Day will reprise this and other challenges, adding social media and matching gift challenges, to raise the stakes for 2020.

Students pose for photos during the Giving Day 2019 campus celebration.

“Giving Day is growing into a tradition,” said Nicole Cook, director of marketing and participation for Cornell Annual Giving Programs in the division of Alumni Affairs and Development (AAD). “It has been incredibly exciting to see more and more donors giving each year. Giving Day unites students, alumni, parents and friends across the globe in the single purpose of making a difference for Cornell.”

Last year’s Giving Day brought in the most separate gifts – more than 13,800 – Cornell has received on any single day in its history.

Alumni volunteers can inspire their friends to participate in Giving Day 2020 by signing up to be Fundraising Champions. Champions create unique profile pages on the Cornell Giving Day website and track their success in getting friends to help them reach their individual goals.

“Giving on Giving Day is personal,” Cook said. “Donors give from the heart to the areas they are most passionate about, or to a specific cause. They see the immediate impact of their gifts on that day.”

Last year, more than 90 Fundraising Champions brought in several thousand dollars to funds all across Cornell.

“Giving Day is not possible without the support of hundreds of volunteers who fundraise as Giving Day Champions, share our messages as social media ambassadors, and give generously as donors,” said Ashley Budd, director of digital marketing in AAD. “Each of them is passionate about giving back to the programs they love.”

From coffee hours and ice cream socials to giveaways in several central campus locations, in-person events get the campus community excited about Giving Day and help build a culture of philanthropy – especially for students approaching graduation.

“The message of Giving Day resonates with the philosophy of the Senior Class Campaign: Give what you can to what you love at Cornell, and your gift joins with others’ to do more,” says Kendra Saldana, assistant director of AAD for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. “The campus event is such a fun atmosphere for the senior class to plug into and host a table. They get to see many of their classmates and, because the Giving Day cause is already in the air, many seniors make their gift.”

On Giving Day, students in Ithaca will enjoy ice cream, write thank-you cards to donors and gather with friends at a central campus celebration in Willard Straight Hall, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The festivities will continue from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Appel Commons, hosted by Student and Campus Life.

This year, AAD invites alumni in New York City from the classes of 2010 through 2019 to gather to count down the final hours of Giving Day, from 9 p.m. to midnight, at The Ainsworth East Village.

Kaitlin Provost is a writer in the office of Alumni Affairs and Development.

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Abby Butler