Tuesday’s sixth annual Giving Blueday, a 24-hour fundraising campaign for the University of Michigan coinciding with the global philanthropic movement Giving Tuesday, raised $4,242,531 from 15,887 gifts, according to a University press release.

The donations will go toward supporting hundreds of different causes such as colleges, programs, scholarships, research and organizations — including more than 150 student organizations — across the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses.

To encourage engagement throughout the day, the Giving Blueday campaign featured a variety of challenges and donation-matching initiatives. For example, students who donated $25 or more to any program or cause received a match of $25, up to a maximum of $50,000 total cap, distributed on a first-come first-serve basis. More than a dozen causes, including the Program on Intergroup Relations and Department of Urology Prostate Cancer Research Fund, received donation matches thanks to contributions by individual sponsors.

Compared to last year, the number of gifts and the total dollars raised both increased this year. The official University press release said the number of donations increased nearly 26 percent. Last year’s Giving Blueday raised over $3.6 million from 12,889 gifts.

These results align with a change of priorities at the Office of University Development, the office in charge of coordinating the campaign. The first few years of Giving Blueday saw larger donations. But Pamela Stout, senior director of executive and internal communications, told The Daily last year the office refocused on “expanding our community of donors” beginning three years ago.

According to Megan Doud, assistant vice president of strategic resource development, this goal translates to encouraging as many people to participate in Giving Blueday as possible, instead of emphasizing the total monetary amount.

“We decided to focus on the number of gifts and the number of donors, because the point of Giving Blueday really is to have a community-wide effort to illustrate how important giving is to the University at all levels,” Doud said. “A gift of every size matters, from every individual who contributes.”

Samantha Uptmor, University of Michigan-Flint junior and director of foreign outreach for U-M Flint Student Government, described similar efforts in support of the U-M Flint Wolverine Food Den. For the first time this year, Uptmor said U-M Flint Student Government created a campaign challenging each of their members as well as staff and faculty to donate.

According to Uptmor, donations will aid student government in making the pantry more accessible, as well as include a greater variety of food options. 

“The one goal we had going into Giving Blueday this year was to challenge our administration, our faculty and our staff to meet students where they are,” Uptmor said. “As student government, all of us students are going to make donations. It doesn’t matter the amount, more so actively thinking of it and being aware of the issue of food insecurity on campus.”

Doud explained Giving Blueday originally started six years ago on all three University campuses to leverage the publicity of Giving Tuesday, which was relatively new at the time. She expressed excitement for the growth of the campaign, which she said has seen donor count, particularly first-time donor count, increasing each year.

“It’s been really exciting to see how much Giving Blueday has taken on an awareness of its own, well beyond Giving Tuesday,” Doud said. “It’s a standalone brand at this point.”

For organizations like the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the popularity of Giving Blueday serves as a platform to raise awareness of their programs. Laura Yoo, UMMA assistant director of development, annual giving and corporate partnerships, said the event is especially useful, since the UMMA does not have an alumni base and does not charge admission. 

Yoo explained donations from Giving Blueday will help the museum improve visitor experience, exhibitions, educational programs and other broad-based initiatives. 

“Giving Blueday is a great day to remind everyone about the importance of UMMA on campus, not only raising awareness but generating excitement among supporters of our museum,” Yoo said.

Engineering junior Lindsay Rosenblum is the grants and funding manager for F.E.M.M.E.S. — which stands for Women+ Excelling More in Math, Engineering and the Sciences — a student organization working to close the gender and racial gaps in the computer science, science, technology, math and engineering fields. 

Rosenblum explained the University chapter hosts a variety of events on the Ann Arbor campus and after-school programs for younger female-identifying students in the Southeast Michigan area, especially those from underserved communities. Funds raised will go toward an assortment of programming needs, Rosenblum said, such that a $20 donation would allow one more girl the opportunity to attend the organization’s capstone event, an all-day affair each semester filled with a variety of STEM activities for girls in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. 

According to Rosenblum, F.E.M.M.E.S. raised over $2,300 last year and was looking to match or surpass that figure this year. 

“Our events are entirely free to participants because we don’t want there to be any socioeconomic barriers, which is an issue in the field,” Rosenblum said. “So Giving Blueday is a really good way to make sure that we have enough money to fund these programs.”

Students could also visit tables set up on the Diag and at Pierpont Commons Tuesday to nominate programs and causes to receive additional funds. Engineering sophomore Grace Ochs said she was waiting in line to support the University’s financial aid programs. 

“I’ve personally received a lot of financial aid support from U-M, so I’d like to give back a little bit,” Ochs said. “I think it’s important for everyone to give back because the University has a lot of programs that give to us, so we show up and support them.”

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