By Katie Ward
Can a country of consumers, one which spent over $11.5 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017, come together to raise money for its own communities and affect change in the world where it’s needed?
The Catholic University of America and the founders of the Giving Tuesday campaign say “yes”.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Catholic University has participated in this campaign. This year, the University raised almost $90,000 through students, faculty, and alumni. This is close to the $100,000 they raised in 2016.
Giving Tuesday began in 2012 in response to the increased and widely criticized consumerism craze that occurs just hours after America’s holiday of thanks. After Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday were not enough to increase the early start of holiday shopping, stores started opening in recent years on Thursday evening. It was clear that something had to change.
Started by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City, Giving Tuesday focuses on uniting all different groups of people and businesses to focus on needs in their local communities. The campaign uses social media to organize, encourage, and connect big corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations, families, and individuals alike in a 24-hour fundraising crusade.
The national #GivingTuesday 2017 campaign raised a record $274 million through over 2.4 million gifts worldwide.
The $83,385 raised by Catholic during their Giving Tuesday will mostly go towards the CUA Fund, which helps support academics, athletics, scholarships, and more in the university community. Donors had the option to designate where their donation would go, whether to the general CUA Fund or to an allocation of their choice. A $10,000 donation was made to Cardinal athletics, and another donation of the same size was gifted to the School of Arts and Sciences. The latter is being split between the Peebles-McGuire Scholarship Endowment and Peeble’s Memorial Fund, both of which support graduate students and updated resources in the Department of Greek and Latin.
The recently-released Report to Donors for the 2016-2017 fiscal year revealed that last year raised the most money in Catholic history. President John Garvey praised the ten thousand donors for their support, which “provides students with scholarships, enables improvements to academic buildings and athletics facilities, increases the scope of our research activities, and expands our curriculum in key disciplines”, according to the letter from the President.
One of the key components in the success of this year’s Giving Tuesday, and the past year of CUA fundraising, was the creation of the Student Philanthropy Council this September. In an email to all university students, President Garvey specially thanked the new organization, which he called “instrumental in achieving this impressive outcome” of $90,000.
In previous years, Catholic’s Senior Class Gift Committee received feedback that more money could be raised if students were reached out to before their senior year to donate.
“I would rather be asked by a classmate to donate to CUA than someone in Advancement,” said Liz Friden, the vice president of events for the Student Philanthropy Council.
Administrators and students involved with the CUA Fund also recognized that alumni wanted to hear from current students. These alumni gave donations that were critical to bringing the Papal Mass, Murphy’s Grill and DuFour Center renovations to Catholic.
The group of twenty-six students helped with Cardinal Weekend 2017, the USCCB Fall General Assembly in early November, and the annual Christmas Concert for Charity. The Student Philanthropy Council also helped contact alumni and tabled in the Pryzbyla Center on Tuesday.
Patrick Davey, director of the CUA Fund, called Giving Tuesday an “interesting phenomenon”.
“You’re almost so inundated with appeals that it’s tough to get above the fray,” Davey said. “I think our students did a great job in helping us stand out on Giving Tuesday.”