CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University officials worked to engage alumni, faculty and students on Wednesday in a massive fundraising campaign that raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars within hours.
University “giving days” — online crowdfunding campaigns designed to generate a sense of immediacy and enthusiasm — have become more prevalent at institutions of higher learning in the last several years, according to Rebecca Renshaw, associate director of development communications.
SIU held its first Day of Giving in 2017.
“A lot of universities across the country are now turning to an online giving day … so we just said let’s try it and see what happens, and it was a great success,” Renshaw said.
Last year, the university sought to raise $75,000 and raised $341,000, Renshaw said.
“So this year my goal is to raise $342,000,” she said. “It would be nice to reach half a million, but it’s more about the number of donors, is really what we’re after.”
At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the SIU Credit Union presented a $20,000 check to the chancellor. By 10:30 a.m., the counter on the campaign’s website had already ticked past $200,000. By a little after 5 p.m., it was nearing $353,000.
Amelia Ketzle, lead data analyst at SIU Foundation, was stationed at a booth in Morris Library, where she offered cookies to passersby. She said SIU’s campaign follows the national trend.
“We’re trying to sort of take advantage of that notoriety, that kind of word of mouth that’s already out there and make it an SIU tradition as well. And it kind of helps focus people’s attention on donating, where they may have an intention to donate for months or years and never actually get around to it. Giving them an actual day to use as a goal helps make people make that a reality,” Ketzle said.
Elvira Muckelroy, director of donor relations, called the event “unifying.”
“Anybody, students, faculty, staff, come together for a great cause,” Muckelroy said.
Addressing faculty and staff in Morris Library Wednesday afternoon, SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno said that both small and large donations were important to the future of the university.
“What’s different about (the 24-hour campaign model) is it provides a mechanism for people to connect with their giving,” Montemagno later told The Southern. “Many of the gifts that we get are the result of everybody understanding that there’s a common core of need that they want to be satisfied. … This opportunity to give provides a framework so that everybody says, ‘My $50 gift or $20 gift is going to make a difference, because we’re all giving together as a community.’”
A trophy will be awarded to the school or college with the highest number of participants. As of press time, the School of Medicine led the pack with 108 gifts and $31,675 raised. The fundraiser was set to close at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Montemagno, who sported an “I Gave the Gift of Experience” sticker, said he couldn’t divulge which college or program he’d chosen to support.
“I can say that I’m passionate about it and they’re deserving,” Montemagno said.
Renshaw said alumni have been happy to rally behind SIU.
“Your college years are your most formative years, and people remember. Any time they see a photo of Campus Lake or a photo of Faner, they always, on our social media, say, ‘Oh, I remember that! I remember being there when I was at the university; those were some of the best years of my life,’ and so people have a connection, and that phrase, ‘Once a Saluki, always a Saluki,’ rings true,” Renshaw said.