Giving Blueday to encourage student donors

By Emilie Plesset, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 24, 2014

Next Tuesday is about to be a whole lot more Blue.

The University aims to raise $1 million next Tuesday, Dec. 2 through Giving Blueday, the first University-wide one-day push for donations as part of its current major fundraising campaign, Victors for Michigan.

Tom Szczepanski, assistant vice president for development, connected Giving Blueday to Giving Tuesday, a national movement to promote charitable action after mass consumption on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“Imagine how few nonprofit organizations can claim that they raised a million dollars in one day,” Szczepanski said. “I think that our alumni and our students and all the friends of the University are up for that sort of challenge.”

The University is asking students, alumni and friends of the University to donate to an area of their choice on Giving Blueday. Some private donors have agreed to match student donations; one will match all student gifts up to a total of $30,000.

Szczepanski anticipates that donors will be inspired by current students and their organizations. About 70 student groups, including the Black Student Union, Michigan Marching Band and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, will participate and encourage donors to give money for their organizations.

“Nothing motivates the donor more than looking at a young person and saying, ‘Wow, I want to support people like that,’” Szczepanski said. “By their participation in things like the campaign kickoff, it really is the embodiment of what they’re providing funds for, to support the students that we have here.”

To encourage participation, there will be activities on campus throughout the day, including an appearance by Olympic ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, both LSA students, and a performance by the School of Music, Theatre & Dance in the Diag.

While much of the money raised will go toward student organizations, donors can also direct their money toward scholarships and other areas of the overall Victors for Michigan campaign.

Victors for Michigan, which began last November, is the University’s sixth major fundraising campaign and aspires to raise $4 billion by 2018. This fundraising goal is the second-largest in public institution history, surpassed only by the $4.2 billion goal of the University of California, Los Angeles’s Centennial Campaign.

Before the campaign began, the University received $1.7 billion in gifts during a two-year “silent phase,” but after this past year the campaign has raised a total of $2.45 billion. So far, the University has raised $418 million of its goal of $1 billion for student scholarships.

“We have a lot of very generous individuals that went to Michigan and they feel good about Michigan,” said Jerry May, vice president of development. “That’s what we’re really lucky about.”

While the campaign started under former University President Mary Sue Coleman, May said the campaign planned for a transition in presidency and that current University President Mark Schlissel has been forming relationships with prominent donors and loyal alumni.

“He has totally embraced the goals of the campaign,” May said. “Especially the scholarship goal.”