24-hour online Giving Day returns to UC Santa Cruz

When the fast-paced online philanthropic festival called Giving Day debuted at UC Santa Cruz in 2016, it exceeded all expectations, raising more than $339,000. The 2017 edition was even bigger and better, raising more than $520,000 for 122 worthy projects.

Now the organizers of this free-spirited and imaginative give-fest are back for round three:  Giving Day 2018, an expanded and amped-up version that will once again allow teams of fundraisers to compete, good-naturedly, against one another for top honors.

The 24-hour festival takes place on February 28. As the hours and minutes tick by, donors will try to outdo one another. Think of it as a day-long marathon of giving that ends with a hundred-yard dash to the finish line. Last year’s top challenge winner was  Formula Slug, a student-run, nonprofit sustainable engineering organization that won the “Mad Dash” Challenge, adding $2,500 to their project, as well as the Final Frenzy Challenge and bonus $10,000. Giving Day is a time for the campus community to come together in a circle of giving. Donors give through a special Giving Day website that tracks gifts in real time so everyone can see right away how each project is faring as they compete for matches and “challenge gifts.”

This user-friendly web page includes an ever-ticking countdown clock, as well as a training toolkit page with links to presentations. Teams of donors hope to meet, or exceed, the breadth and depth of last year’s version.

A small sampling of this year’s projects includes the African American Resource & Cultural Center, the Alumni Association Scholarship, the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, the UC Santa Cruz Arts Division, the Ballroom Dance Club, Emergency Medical Slugs, the Fighting Slugs Marching Band, KZSC 88.1 FM Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, Shakespeare to Go, Slug Gaming, Sisterhood in STEM, UC Santa Cruz Campus Natural Reserve, and UC Santa Cruz Hackathon.

“Giving Day is certainly growing on itself each year,” said Alexis Geers, assistant director of annual giving and project management at UC Santa Cruz. “While the day is focused on helping projects raise funds, the real key is to spread the word about what their projects are and encourage people to participate in any way they can. This can mean giving a donation of $5, or it could mean being an advocate of a project by spreading the word.”

The emphasis is on fun as well as generosity. Throughout this intensive 24-hour period, online donors can support any campus fund they wish, whether or not it is a featured project on the website. Gifts can also be made in person, by phone, or by check.  

Geers also mentioned the burgeoning number of participants. In 2016, Giving Day benefitted 68 projects. Last year, the number increased to 122. This year, 175 projects will take part in Giving day. The number of donors has also grown year by year, showing that the culture of philanthropy has been spreading and increasing across campus, Geers said.

Giving Day benefits all kinds of projects and programs that are connected to UC Santa Cruz. The possibilities are endless. Sports teams, science competitions, and research projects all have their place at this donation festival.

Students, staff or faculty can all lead a project team that works to inspire current supporters to support a project while recruiting new ones, too. Geers described the philosophy behind the creation of Giving Day—“it’s the idea of support, encouragement, growing your network, and contributing to your community. It’s all about coming together not only as a university, but also as peers, friends, and family to build a community of support.”