Columbia is hoping to raise more money today than in any 24-hour period in the University’s history.
The Columbia Alumni Association is undertaking an aggressive fundraising effort to encourage donations to any one of the University’s 16 schools between midnight and 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
“We wanted to encourage people to give back and to make gifts that will change the lives of students here,” said CloEve Demmer, director of the alumni association’s annual fund. Smaller colleges have hosted such events before, but, according to Demmer, this is the first time a major university has done so.
“This is our pilot year—it’s really a test,” she said.
Because donors could pledge to make donations ahead of time, Giving Day had already raised more than $676,000 by 12:05 a.m. Columbia College was leading with $285,717, about 42 percent of the total. Athletics—one of several programs that are also participating in Giving Day—was in second place with $130,615, or 19 percent of the total.
The alumni association is trying to incentivize giving by live streaming conversations with notable Columbia figures throughout the day. Donors will be able to log on to the CAA website and watch a conversation with neuroscience professor and Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel. They will also be able to submit questions for a roundtable discussion with M. Dianne Murphy, director of intercollegiate athletics and physical education, and the deans of the Business School, Columbia College, and the School of Nursing.
Additionally, the University’s Trustees have set up challenges by which the schools can receive matching funds. The five schools or programs that raise the most money will also earn a portion of an additional $120,000. Between 2 and 11 p.m., there will be hourly competitions in which the schools or programs with the most international donors, the most donors, or the most random donors earn an additional $5,000. The 1,754th donor—symbolic of the year King’s College was founded—will also earn their chosen donee an extra $5,000.
At the end of the day, each school or program will split $250,000, donated by the trustees, relative to the total funds they raised.
While the alumni association has employed traditional advertising methods online and in the University’s magazine, Demmer said she is relying on word of mouth from faculty, coaches, and alumni or through social media, a strategy aimed to solicit donations from those who have never supported the University before.
“The social component is really where we are expecting to leverage the day,” Demmer said. “An alumnus tells an alumnus tells an alumnus, and pretty soon everybody knows.”