UCSC Giving Day ignites philanthropy and community spirit

24-hour fundraising event amplifies opportunities for Banana Slugs

Giving Day 2023 kicks off on Nov. 8.
Giving Day brings the campus and community together to raise funds for 165 projects.

Giving Day, UC Santa Cruz’s biggest fundraising event, returns on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. The eighth annual event brings the campus and community together to raise funds for 165 projects that will help ensure students have access to financial support, secure sources for basic needs, mental health support, opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research, and connections that catalyze their social mobility.

This year’s event builds on the excitement generated by Giving Day 2022, when—for the first time–UC Santa Cruz raised more than $1 million for student programs through Giving Day. 

Funds raised on Giving Day amplify student experiences at UC Santa Cruz. The Okinawa Memories Initiative, for example, uses funds from Giving Day to support student travel to Okinawa,  to work directly with our partners in Los Angeles, and to fund student researchers during the school year and during their summer OMI Scholars program. 

“For us, receiving Giving Day funding means having the ability to connect students directly with communities to benefit both,” the Okinawa Memories Initiative reports. “This past summer, we funded 14 student researchers to perform oral histories, do archival work, and design exhibitions with the Okinawa Association of America.”

Giving Day provided the Everett Program the opportunity to showcase the strong impact community action can have. The program used the $20,000 it raised last year to acquire equipment for its production centered around a family’s story navigating the foster care system, incarceration, and addiction. 

“We feel so honored and empowered to be able to use our positionality as university students to uplift and amplify the stories of incarcerated individuals,” says Isabelle Aguirre, Executive Fellow of the Everett Program. “With the donations from Giving Day, we were able to take action on getting these narratives told and allow students to transcend the classroom in their social change efforts.”

This year the Everett Program will use the funds they raise to support formerly incarcerated filmmaker Rahsaan Thomas with his film collective in producing documentaries telling more stories of system-impacted individuals.

“This is a great example of why Giving Day is so popular at UC Santa Cruz,” says Associate Director of Annual Giving Jenna Hurley (Cowell ’13, psychology). “Donors can pick their favorite programs on campus and know exactly where their gifts are going. They can immediately see the impact of their support—whether it’s for new lab equipment, team sports equipment, travel costs for clubs, career or community building opportunities, or basic needs to help reduce food and housing insecurity. There’s a place for everyone to give on Giving Day.”

Students, faculty, staff, parents, friends, and alumni are encouraged to support UC Santa Cruz during the 24-hour online crowdfunding contest. A series of time-based challenges will award prizes to teams for the most donors, the best social media presence, the most compelling videos, and more. Giving Day donors can compete with one another to propel their favorite projects into first place for these challenges, or have their gifts doubled by generous matching donors.

The UCSC Foundation trustees are again actively involved with Giving Day. Along with support from individual board members, the Foundation’s Board Opportunity Fund is sponsoring the Final Frenzy challenge, ensuring that the last few moments of Giving Day will be energetic.

“As UCSC Trustees we are excited to champion Giving Day as we come together as a community and campus to support our students' success,” says Janet Buck, chair of the Foundation’s development committee.

During last year’s Giving Day, a total of 3,726 donors—25 percent of whom were alumni— generously contributed more than $1 million to support student programs. Hurley, a proud UC Santa Cruz alumna, says the fundraising event is an excellent way for alumni to support their alma mater.

“Giving Day is a fantastic opportunity for alumni to give back and provide today’s Banana Slugs with the same opportunities and more than they had during their time at UC Santa Cruz,” she says. “We encourage gifts of all sizes—even a gift of $5 makes a difference. Many challenges are determined by just one donor, so even with a small gift, they can be the reason their favorite program or area on campus gets thousands of dollars.”

Giving Day kicks off at 12 a.m. on November 8 and runs through to 11:59 p.m. The Giving Day website will provide up-to-the-moment tallies. For more information about UCSC’s Giving Day 2023, visit the Giving Day website or email giving@ucsc.edu.