It all started 6 months ago, with several committees and 72 campus-wide projects, all preparing for the intense 1,850-minute-long fundraising celebration. This was the U’s third annual Giving Day, a campus-wide fundraising event that focuses on donations from students, alumni, and members of the community.
“Wherever the donor wants their money to go, it goes directly to that program, so it’s really about where the donor is investing and what they are passionate about,” said Director of Annual Giving Rachel Robertson.
The funds go toward colleges, scholarships, student emergency funds, the Feed U pantry, healthcare, research labs and equipment, etc. Ryan McClendon notes that students see donations play a role every day on campus because everything they use is supported by donations.
McClendon serves on the Student Alumni Board and helped with social media and notified alumni of the event.
“It’s awesome to know that I have a day where I can go and give back and know that I’m helping peers on campus, and I’m helping resources that I’ve utilized in my four years,” she said.
This year, Giving Day raised roughly $32,000 for the Student Emergency Fund, which depends entirely on donations. According to McClendon, about 10 students apply for the fund every week.
Additionally, the Parent Fund and Feed U Pantry each raised about $12,000 towards student aid.
“That’s huge for that pantry that’ll supply the pantry for the whole year,” McClendon said.
As for the other 70 projects, some 5,300 donors from nine countries came together on Feb. 23 and 24 and raised $1.2 million, doubling that of last year. Within those donors, 251 students donated and raised $9,000.
A surprise gift from men’s basketball Coach K and Jan Krystkowiak came in about halfway through giving day. Robertson said they reached out to her and donated $72,000 distributed evenly amongst each of the projects.
“Giving day is super important and demonstrates the collective impact when folks come together and can make a huge difference in the lives of students, patients, and everyone else in the Utah community,” Robertson said.
Debra Brito, chairwoman of the student planning committee, helped to plan other events for Giving day, including an Among Us tournament and the Feed U Zoom Cooking Hour, which she was able to attend herself.
“I really enjoyed the events from a student side and seeing our plans play out.” She said. “After the work we put in, the outcome was really satisfying.”
University Advancement and the Giving Day directors feel their work has paid off, and plan to continue the celebratory fundraiser every February, in conjunction with founders day.
“I was just blown away by the generosity of the Utah community. It was absolutely breathtaking,” Robertson said.
The projects and the funds they raised are available on the website, and students can reach out to University Advancement for ways to volunteer next year. The committee emphasizes that students don’t have to donate to participate in the extra events, but if anyone felt inclined, donations are open year-round on the website.