After 24 hours of fundraising and tweeting, Columbia brought in $7.8 million during its second annual Giving Day.
The Columbia Alumni Association’s day-long fundraising push, which reeled in just under $7 million last year, kicked off at midnight on Wednesday after the launch of the four undergraduate schools’ senior funds.
“This is a fun day to demonstrate a short burst of energy and real-time tracking to see exactly how our alums get behind the mission of Columbia,” CloEve Demmer, director of the alumni association’s annual fund, said.
The schools and programs that participated each received a share of a $220,500 prize based on their percentage of total funds raised. Barnard, the Earth Institute, and the Columbia Global Centers—the day’s lowest earner, with only $505 raised—participated for the first time this year.
Like last year, Columbia College and Athletics were the top two earners, raising $2.4 and $1.8 million, respectively. The School of Continuing Education had the highest percentage of alumni participation for the second year in a row, earning a bonus of $25,000.
Throughout the day, the Alumni Association rewarded the schools and programs with extra funds. The Business School won $5,000 for having the most international donors by 9 a.m., and Columbia University Libraries won an extra $2,000 for tweeting.
There were a variety of events to promote Giving Day on campus, including panels with faculty members and deans. The Alumni Association heavily advertised the event on Twitter, encouraging donors to share why they donated to Columbia with the hashtag #WhyIGive.
Fernanda Douglas, CC ’16, said that although she didn’t donate on Wednesday, she saw the value of Giving Day as a fundraising tool.
“It also generates community support,” Douglas said. “People usually donate on a whim.”
Kethan Rao, CC ’17, said he could see why Athletics received the bulk of the donations.
“If they have a lot of school spirit, I’d see why they’d donate,” Rao said.
The Alumni Association plans to evaluate Giving Day at the end of the fiscal year to determine if it wants to make any changes to the way the event is run. Giving Day is still only in the second year of a three-year pilot program, Demmer said.
“Right now, we don’t consider it a permanent fixture. We still consider it a pilot we’re running,” Demmer said. “I do think though that it’s been really, really fun to watch the Columbia community come together in this way.”
Demmer said that the program has helped keep fundraising going strong near the Dec. 31 end of the Columbia Campaign, which was launched in 2006 with a goal of raising $4 billion. The campaign has raised just under $6 billion to date.
“The timing’s been great,” Demmer said. “Our alums are really engaged and excited.”
Demmer attributed Giving Day’s success to the sense of community that is created by a day entirely devoted to fundraising for Columbia.
“I think the thing that’s unique about Giving Day is that it’s more of a University-wide initiative than our alums are used to seeing,” Demmer said. “When they sit down and write a check and put it in the mail, it doesn’t have the same community feel.”
Elena Nicolaou contributed reporting.