Giving Day 2023 breaks records

UCSC’s biggest fundraising event of the year raises more than $1.5M

Giving Day 2023 raises more than $1.5 million.
Students, staff, and faculty gather at the Quarry Plaza on Giving Day.
Students pose with Banana Slugs in the Quarry Plaza on Giving Day.  (Photos by Carolyn Lagattuta)

5,000-plus donors, 160 projects, 19 challenges, one day. 

Giving Day, UC Santa Cruz’s biggest fundraising event of the year, wraps up on a high note with a record-breaking $1.5 million raised within 24 hours.

This is the second year in a row that Giving Day brought in more than $1 million. This year, UCSC saw a record number of donations, projects, and challenges, shattering last year’s totals. 

Funds raised during the event directly benefit student and campus projects, helping to ensure students have access to financial support, secure sources for basic needs, mental-health resources, opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research, and connections that catalyze their social mobility.

"Giving Day at UC Santa Cruz stands as a testament to the extraordinary spirit and generosity of our community,” said UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive. “Raising more than $1.5 million in just 24 hours is a monumental achievement that will have a lasting impact on our students and campus. This remarkable accomplishment reflects the dedication and commitment of our community to furthering the educational opportunities and experiences our campus offers. It is a true celebration of what we can achieve when we come together for a common cause."

Jenna Hurley, associate director of annual giving (Cowell ’13, psychology) and main organizer of Giving Day, emphasized the positive impact the 24-hour event has on students. 

“This event is all about our Slugs,” she said. “It's about providing them with the resources and opportunities that will truly shape their futures. It's a powerful reminder of the incredible impact we can make when we rally together in support of their aspirations." 

The final countdown 

Time-based challenges throughout the day boosted the 24-hour fundraising effort, encouraging donors to give during select times. Projects that received the most donors during select time slots were awarded bonus dollars. 

Slug Rugby secured first-place wins in two challenges and top-three wins in four additional ones. With the additional $10,000 in challenge prizes, Slug Rugby’s earnings catapulted to $47,000. The campus’ first-ever sports team — the squad was founded in 1966 — Slug Rugby relied on its large alumni base to become one of Giving Day’s most widely supported projects with 405 donations. This is the first year both the men’s and women’s rugby teams came together for Giving Day.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Slug Rugby family — our student-athletes, our alumni, the Black and Gold Society and all of the extended network of Slug Rugby supporters,” said head coach Jeremy Sanford. “Rugby was the first intercollegiate sport played on campus. That pioneering rugby team embraced the Banana Slug as their mascot and in doing so imprinted both rugby and our beloved, tenacious, gritty mollusk mascot on the nascent DNA of our campus! It's a remarkable legacy.”

Slug Rugby funds from Giving Day will be used to buy equipment and training gear, travel across California and Nevada to compete in competitions, host tournaments on campus, record and broadcast matches, engage in preseason and postseason matches, and compete at the highest possible level. Funds will also allow for increased player recruitment and retention by decreasing the financial barriers to participation.

“Giving Day set our student athletes up for a successful season,” Sanford added. “We are grateful for the support.” 

The Center for Agroecology: UCSC Farm closed off the day with the highest earning of any project with more than $124,000 raised. The funds from the project will be used to repair the 30-year-old fence surrounding the farm, which protects the crops, and will support the overall program. 

"We are immensely grateful for the overwhelming support we received during Giving Day,” said Center for Agroecology Executive Director Darryl Wong. “We extend our heartfelt thanks to all who made this possible. The funds we raised will support our research, extension, and education programs."

​​Since its founding in 1971, the 30-acre farm has hosted training programs, workshops, research projects, classes, and internships for students, faculty, community members, and aspiring farmers. For the past six years, the Center for Agroecology has grown food on the UCSC Farm for students facing food insecurity, donating more than 20,000 pounds of organic produce to student food pantries and other Basic Needs programs each year. 

The event ultimately provided valuable funding for each of the 160 projects involved in Giving Day 2023. 

"None of this would have been possible without the incredible support and dedication of our community,” Hurley said. “These contributions, both big and small, have made a profound difference in the lives of our students. We thank all who donated for being a part of this momentous Giving Day. Together, we are shaping a brighter future for UC Santa Cruz."