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Successful Higher Education Campaigns: #GivingTuesday

This November 28th marks the 6th annual #GivingTuesday – a day dedicated to charitable giving. This is an important day for nonprofit organizations as they look forward to another year of record-breaking donations.

Over the last 5 years, higher education institutions have used creative campaigns and challenges to inspire donors to give back – and the outcome has been very impressive. Here are some examples of successful #GivingTuesday campaigns from years gone by:

Fundraising Challenges

Giving challenges are a staple part of #GivingTuesday. Many schools have had outstanding success in engaging students, alumni, and community donors through giving challenges.

Last year Tufts University alumni and alumni parents came together to challenge fellow donors to meet or exceed their school’s goal. If 2,000 individual donors gave to the school, the group of alumni and alumni parents offered to donate an additional $200,000 gift! In the end, 4,014 donors gave over $1 million to the university, surpassing the challenge and setting a new record for a single day of fundraising. [1]

At Pennsylvania State University, various specific daylong challenges contributed to their #GivingTuesday success. The challenges were matched by individual donors, company donors, school institutions and most uniquely – volunteering hours. Penn State sports fans made donations to help provide opportunities for student-athletes, and in return, the athletes and staff contributed over 100 hours of community service to local nonprofits. [2]

Noteworthy Campaigns

Colorado State University ran a campaign last year to raise money for for students in need of meals. The campaign, Rams Against Hunger, raised $26,908 – the equivalent of 3,844 meals! [3]

Palm Beach Atlantic University made an effort to get the future generation of students involved in contributing to #GivingTuesday. They encouraged prospective students to donate to charities of their choice by waiving application fees. An original way to spur charitable giving. [4]

Donations in a Virtual World

Like Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a product of the digital age. From crowdfunding to sharing philanthropic passions through videos or pictures, now known as #Unselfies, much of the day’s activities are carried out online.

Many schools have reported record-breaking online donations during #GivingTuesday. Carnegie Mellon’s Director of Annual Giving shared that they received so many online donations on #GivingTuesday 2015 that it ‘overloaded the online system’. Their donations sailed past the goal set for the day. [5]

With the popularity of online giving, the University of Michigan has decided to combine what they call #GivingBlueday with their 200th anniversary by throwing a ‘virtual party’ on November 28th, 2017. They’re making the most of the day by asking their community to support any school-related cause for a 24 hour period. [6]

Social media has also become an important part of the day. At Wesleyan University, for example, many have used #Unselfies and video clips along with other examples of hashtag activism to promote this day. By encouraging students and alumni to share their giving passions on social media #GivingTuesday involvement receives an even greater boost. [7]

For the last 6 years, #GivingTuesday donations have steadily grown, showing great potential for the years to come. In 2015 a study showed that only 18% of people knew about this philanthropic day and yet the donations still amounted to approximately $116 million! [8] We look forward to seeing this year’s results and learning about how our clients are getting involved and giving back.


Sources & Additional Reading

[6] Giving Blueday: November 28,

[7] Giving Tuesday 2016,


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