In 24 hours, donors raised a record-breaking $10,040,921 to support Cornell students, programs and research on the university’s seventh Giving Day, March 11. Gifts from 14,411 donors poured in steadily throughout the day, with support from all 50 U.S. states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., as well as nearly 80 countries around the world.
“We’re so grateful for the support of the Cornell community on Giving Day,” said Fred Van Sickle, vice president for Alumni Affairs and Development (AAD). “Last year, Cornellians rallied behind Giving Day in the very early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it clear that even in a time of radical uncertainty, our alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends remain committed to the university and its mission.
“We’ve spent the past year connecting with this community through virtual events, seeing old friends on Zoom, and making many new ones,” Van Sickle said. “This year’s Giving Day once again demonstrates the difference Cornellians can make as they band together in support of today’s students.”
Throughout the 24-hour campaign, donors took advantage of gift challenges and matches to increase the effect of their gifts and win extra funds for their favorite areas of the university. All 20 areas competing in the Raise the Bar challenge topped their 2020 donor counts and each received challenge bonus funds of $4,125. More than 200 alumni, students and friends also signed up as fundraising champions, helping to bring in thousands of dollars to support their specific colleges, teams and more.
Many who participated in these challenges said they enjoyed watching the day’s totals climb, and seeing which areas won additional funds. “I can see the ways in which the gifts show the love people have for their clubs, colleges, teams and departments, and their experiences and treasured memories. I love the competitions between colleges,” says Ahoefa Andréa Abita ’20.
Several international challenges brought in nearly $20,000 to support Global Cornell. Members of the Cornell Asia Alumni Leadership Advisors and the Cornell China Alumni Advisory Board made challenge gifts to inspire their classmates to participate and encourage broad international representation among Giving Day 2021 donors.
Gifts from young alumni and students helped unlock challenge funds and raise a total of $50,000 for undergraduate scholarships. The top five class years that made the highest number of gifts were all recent graduates and students, with the graduating Class of 2021 making the most gifts of any Cornell class.
Recent grads and students also participated in a Giving Day trivia night – created by Matt Linden ’17 and led by host Armon Sadler ’17 – competing for a chance to win an extra $1,500 for any Cornell annual fund.
Ninety teams competed, with some participants Zooming in from as far away as Uganda. The winning team, a group of four first-year students, awarded the funds to the Student and Campus Life Annual Fund. Many of the more than 300 participants said it was fun to come together digitally on Giving Day with their classmates and friends for the competition.
“Giving Day was an amazing opportunity to show alumni and students that their support can really make a difference,” says Angel Gutierrez ’19.
“Giving Day was such an exciting moment for me as a Cornellian,” adds Emily Hana Abbruzzese ’23. “I loved checking the total dollars raised between my classes. I am so grateful for the effort of alumni, parents, students and friends of Cornell because I have already seen the direct effects of their Giving Day donations.”
Kaitlin Provost is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.