On March 16, Cornell embarked on its eighth annual Giving Day. With hundreds of causes to support, this is an enthusiastic 24 hours of fundraising for all participating Cornell groups. A grand total of $12,268,629 was raised from 15,905 individual donors.
The charity efforts extend past these 24 hours, as current students, alumni, faculty and organization heads prepare for weeks in advance for Giving Day.
“For us, Giving Day is a culmination of two weeks of outreach, which was all student-driven and student-led,” said Rabbi Ari Weiss, the executive director of Cornell Hillel. The students made phone calls out of Annabel Taylor Hall on March 16.
“Our goal is to increase from the past year, and we were fortunate to do that,” Rabbi Weiss said. Hillel rallied 340 donors this year as compared to 339 in 2020.
Cornell Hillel reached out to alumni through emails and phone calls. It also received assistance from its board of directors in New York City.
Tomoko Morinaga ’89 has been working in fundraising for a long time and is currently employed in the Smithsonian Institution’s membership department. According to Morinaga, a successful Giving Day requires careful preparation as the marketing period begins two weeks prior.
Morinaga helped lead fundraising this semester for the Cornell Club of Washington D.C., which connects Cornell affiliates to the D.C. area. The club decided to participate in Giving Day for the first time, said Morinaga.
Morinaga is passionate about fundraising and believes in each individual’s important role in the process. “You need to go for it. You need to ask,” she said. “I’m not afraid to get a rejection or no response.”
Arpit Chaturvedi ’18 is a Cornell Institute for Public Affairs alumnus based in India. He reached out to fellow graduates through email and WhatsApp, also strategizing for a few weeks prior to March 16 with a fundraising committee made up of alumni.
Chaturvedi commended the CIPA community for being so close-knit.
“The campaign is super fun and we do give it a fair amount of thought,” Chaturvedi said.
Chaturvedi shared his belief in the institutional importance of public policy and his contentment at Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy being ranked 17th in the amount of money raised.
However, he noted an issue for international donors such as himself. He says that many Indians do not have credit cards and use debit cards instead. Making international payments can be difficult with a debit card, according to Chaturvedi.
Many of his fellow South Asian alumni cannot contribute because of the technical challenges that arise.
“They [donors] would work for hours and hours to pay, but after a point in time they give up,” Chaturvedi said.
This year, Cornell has employed the use of Google Pay, which has helped with obtaining international donations, according to Chaturvedi.
“When you’re fundraising, you have to make it as easy as possible,” Chaturvedi said.
Greg Fairbank ’96 was fundraising for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps from home this year. Like Chaturvedi and Morinaga, he said he stays engaged with Cornell after graduation because of his passion for the institution.
“I love Giving Day because it’s a very targeted approach to fundraising where you can really hone in on a specific need that can enhance the University,” Fairbank said.
Fairbank reached out to fellow alumni to encourage them to donate. He also worked with the organization’s fundraising committee.
“You have a very generous set of alumni out there who are willing to sponsor specific things,” Fairbank said.
Fairbank was especially motivated to donate this year, given the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and his continued service in the army. He said it is very important Cornell contributes to the military at this time.
While most of the fundraising was happening online, students also set up booths around campus to attract donors. Alejandra Brotherton ’25 raised money for the Women’s Soccer Team by rallying her friends and family.
“Our main goal this year was new cleats for players for the fall season, and then our larger goal was to raise enough money to re-do the locker room at Bartels,” she said.
The team’s focus was on the number of donors rather than a financial amount, according to Brotherton.
“It was really encouraging and there was no set amount that we had to raise,” Brotherton said.
The Athletics and Physical Education fund received the largest number of donors amounting to 6,118, as well as the largest total monetary contribution of $5,286,405.20.
Brotherton said it felt good to work together to meet the group’s goals, but described how there is competition when it comes to collecting donations between teams.
“My team was super hyped because we got more donors than football,” Brotherton said. In the end though, she said her team shared posts urging donations for other teams, cementing the community effort of the sports department.
“It was fun and competitive, but also connecting,” Brotherton said.