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4 Higher Education Giving Day Succes Stories


This blog was supported by Becca Widmer, Senior Consultant

Giving days are now a full organization effort. The best giving days engage an inclusive and purposeful base of donors, supporters, and volunteers. In higher education, this means everyone: from faculty and staff, to alumni and students. And engaging students provides real value as you help prepare the next generation for giving after graduation. We looked at some of the best student giving day engagement programs and came up with these four powerful examples.

The Drake University Student Alumni Association goes all in to support giving day

Drake Student Alumni Association on their higher education giving day
Student participation is a key part of Drake University All In

Drake University has been a leader for years in student philanthropic engagement. The center of it is the Student Alumni Association (SAA), an incredibly active and connected network of mission-driven students. Their impact is clear during the All In Drake Giving Challenge.

“SAA does an incredible job promoting and supporting our All In efforts, leading up the event and during the 24 hours,” says Laura Roling at Drake University. “SAA is active on social media promoting the All In hype video, marketing their events, and advocating for the fund they have chosen to support for the current year’s giving campaign.” This year, they chose the Slay Fund which supports social justice causes.

Each student on the Drake SAA also serves as an ambassador and encourages their networks to go All In for Drake. They also host several events on campus. Each event is an opportunity for the students to have fun, donate to All In, and spread the spirit of philanthropy. Their kickoff event, “Let’s TACO ‘bout All In” included walking tacos, paw prints on the wall for each donation made, and their infamous yellow bug to promote philanthropy.

“Our students truly go ALL IN and they have an incredible impact on our giving day success!,” says Roling.

Find a hidden buffalo, then spread the giving at University at Buffalo

As a student on the University at Buffalo campus, you might come across a stuffed Buffalo hidden in some interesting place. If you find one, you can direct a gift to the area you care about on campus.

This is just one example of how this innovative team have partnered across campus to maximize the impact of giving day. Stay tuned for more great full-campus engagement from the University at Buffalo in a few weeks when their 2023 giving day launches on April 19.

The University of New Mexico tackles food insecurity and sets records with student giving

University of New Mexico Big Give 2023 higher education giving day
University of New Mexico focused its giving efforts on the Lobo Food Pantry and encouraged more than 1100 students to give.

Food insecurity is a crucial need being addressed today by many giving programs in higher education. As part of their inaugural UNM Big Give—which set records—the University of New Mexico launched a new student giving campaign focused right in the campus dining facilities. During the leading week of UNM Big Give, students purchasing lunch at the Student Union Building were asked to give a dollar or more benefiting the Lobo Food Pantry in celebration of UNM Big Give.

University of New Mexico Big Give 2023 higher education giving day

Along with this effort, the UNM Big Give committee joined several events educating students on the importance of the giving day and philanthropy. The results were incredible.

“We found student philanthropy success by providing an ask that met students where they are- at the lunch table,” says Grant Condon at the UNM Foundation. “Our student participation during UNM Big Give was the springboard towards a successful giving day, and 1,155 students proudly supported the Lobo Food Pantry. Students gave, we simply had to ask.

“Often, you hear the generation of our students are unlike others as they are progressive, socially and environmentally aware. It’s important to connect this mindset to a tangible fundraising effort that are visible to those students.” We here at RNL couldn’t agree more.

The DePaul cash cab mixes fun and a giving for students on the move

DePaul University Swag Shuttle
The Swag Shuttle was a great way to build affinity with DePaul students.

As part of the Blue Demon Challenge, DePaul University’s $7M giving day, the team created a “swag shuttle” to help spread the word about giving with students. This shuttle runs constantly between DePaul’s two campuses, and on giving day, it became an interactive experience similar to “Cash Cab.” The DePaul team rode the shuttle and asked trivia questions. When students got a question right, they won a prize and were also able to direct a gift to a specific fund on campus.

“It was so much fun for the students. But the most important aspect for us was that it was a learning opportunity for them,” says Caileen Crecco at DePaul University. “It let them be part of giving, and opened their eyes to the different ways they could give as alumni.”

You can hear an in-depth overview of DePaul’s giving day success and this effort in our on-demand session from the 2023 Advancement Innovation Summit—click here for free access to all 10 sessions from the Summit.

Engaging your entire community is key to giving day success

Giveys webinar April 2023

These are just a few ways that campuses are engaging students on giving day. Student involvement is growing, and we’re embracing these efforts as a way to involve and educate the future generation of givers. And if you’re looking for some ideas, the RNL giving day consultants can help.

We’re honoring some great giving days with the RNL “Givey” awards at an upcoming webinar on April 11. Register today to attend or receive the recording, and get some great examples of social ambassador engagement, giving day themes, the use of challenges and matches, and other innovations.

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