Members of the Cornell community participate in Giving Day at Willard Straight Hall.

Giving Day raises more than $13M, shattering records

Cornell’s ninth Giving Day united 18,296 donors who live in nearly 100 countries to raise $13,043,165 in just 24 hours, smashing records from previous years. These gifts –  26,977 in total – support students and researchers across campus and build momentum for the To Do the Greatest Good campaign

“In just 24 hours, thousands of donors made a significant difference in the lives of so many,” said Fred Van Sickle, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “These gifts help give students access to Cornell and its life-changing education, and fund critical research that will one day help solve some of the world's most pressing challenges. We are thrilled that so many joined us in Cornell’s pursuit to do the greatest good this Giving Day.”

The dollars raised also support a key focus of the universitywide campaign: reducing student debt to help keep a Cornell education accessible to any person. In addition to reaching students in need and funding scholarships, donors made gifts to more than 560 funds, projects, programs and causes at Cornell, many of which directly fund transformative experiences – including student organizations and teams – that students will remember for the rest of their lives.

Students participate in the Giving Day events.

Donors also took advantage of opportunities to enhance their gifts with a record-breaking $1.8 million secured in gift matches and challenge funds. More than an extra $50,000 was unlocked for undergraduate scholarships, and more than 1,600 students made gifts this year – another record. Nearly 1,000 international donors secured over $10,000 in additional challenge funds through the Big Red world and Global Cornell challenges.

Additionally, more than 450 donors made gifts of more than $1,000 dollars to the Cornell Annual Funds as part of the Cornell Women’s Leadership challenge, an effort led by Mary Armstrong Meduski ’80 and co-challengers Peggy Koenig ’78 and Sharlyn Carter Heslam ’91. The money raised supports undergraduate scholarships, financial aid and student experiences. 

“Giving Day is very important to me and to so many other Cornellians,” said Meduski, who is also the national chair of the Cornell Annual Funds. “It’s essential to have a day that’s a call to action – a rallying day – and I am thrilled that so many joined me and my co-challengers in our pursuit to do the most good for Cornell while highlighting the power of women’s philanthropy.” 

Nearly 560 student and alumni volunteers participated as Giving Day Champions, bringing in 4,093 gifts that totaled more than $330,000; both achievements are Cornell Giving Day records. These efforts fueled momentum for collective giving, which rallied peer donors and donors with similar passions for certain causes and areas of need.

These efforts were also boosted by more than a dozen student-centered events and pop-ups across campus. At these events, more than 1,350 students learned about philanthropy and alumni giving. They also engaged with peers in their community over snacks and giveaways while writing 6,500 thank-you postcards to thousands of Giving Day donors all over the world. 

“For me, Giving Day is an opportunity to remember how much Cornell has given to us, our families, and our friends and to pay forward what others have already done for us,” said Patrick Mehler ’23. “All of the opportunities I have had at Cornell are due to generous alumni and friends of Cornell, and it is important for me to not only do the same for future Cornellians but encourage others to do the same.  

“To everyone that gives to anything at Cornell on Giving Day, you have my deepest thanks for supporting my friends and me in all that we do here,” he said. 

About 80 recent graduates also participated in a live Giving Day event from the East Village in New York City. They tapped into the excitement of the day by coming together to watch Cornell's fundraising totals climb. 

“I chose to devote time to attending this event because I believe that Giving Day is one of the most important events that happen for Cornell as a university,” says Kamillah Knight ’13, M.P.A. ’15, MBA ’22. “I believe this especially given that the funds raised help support students and faculty, amazing initiatives, and sustains what makes Cornell great.” 

Recent undergraduate alumni – Cornellians within 10 years of their graduation – also broke Giving Day records with nearly 2,200 alumni making gifts this year. 

“Giving Day never fails to leave me proud as an alum,” Knight said.

Kaitlyn Ruhf is associate director of campaign communication for Alumni Affairs and Development.

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Rebecca Valli