UW Giving Day Breaks Records While Bringing People Together

The power of community resulted in a history-making UW Giving Day, an annual philanthropic tradition of the University of Wyoming.

A total of 6,293 donors from all 50 states and 10 countries gave a total of $4,107,408 — funds that will go directly to support students and programs across UW. Giving Day is spearheaded by the UW Foundation and took place Oct. 19-20, noon to noon, during Homecoming week. It was online, across social media and across campus.

“The response that we received from Giving Day this year was inspiring, and the momentum for this UW celebration of philanthropy continues to grow with each successive year,” says John Stark, UW Foundation president and CEO. “What a tremendous effort by our campus partners, our UW Foundation staff and all of the contributors who made this year’s event so successful. We are very grateful.”

This year’s theme was “The Big Give.” Students, faculty and staff stepped up to create more campaigns than ever, and donors stepped up in record numbers to support them. UW colleges, units, programs and student groups created 159 crowdfunding campaigns that inspired almost twice the number of donors than last year.

“This event is about connecting our donors with the area or unit on campus that they care most about,” says Clancee Rea, director of annual giving and the Donor Experience Program. “I am excited that we were able to improve our results each year. Watching this many Pokes and friends of UW come together to make an impact on the brown and gold community is inspiring.”

More than $700,000 was available in matching and challenge funds, including 60 unit-specific matches and challenges. Matches are funds that allow donors to double the impact of their gifts, and gifts up to $1,000 were matched until funds ran out. Challenges are similar but are generally based on the number of donors. Once a threshold is reached, the fund is unlocked.

Matches included an overall match for all donors that was established by the UW Foundation Board of Directors. They also included President Ed Seidel’s Faculty and Staff Match for faculty and staff. These funds went live at noon of the first day and were used up by donors in eight minutes. The UW Foundation Board Midnight Match went live at midnight and was claimed in three minutes.

“Our mission — which we take very seriously — is to support the University of Wyoming and our students,” says Mary Shafer-Malicki, chair of the UW Foundation Board of Directors. “It’s so gratifying to see so many people who believe just as much in Wyoming’s university and the future of our students. On behalf of the UW Foundation, the board and UW, thank you. Thank you for being an invaluable member of the team.”

The campaigns with the most donors won the Overall Donor Challenge, with the top 10 receiving awards. This challenge did not include the campaigns of individual colleges. This challenge was won by UW’s rodeo team, which received a $6,000 award for its donor count of 633, followed closely by the debate and forensics team with a $4,000 award for 607 donors.

The other campaigns that placed in the Overall Donor Challenge were Western Thunder Marching Band Hat Club (third place, 341 donors); the UW Athletics soccer team (fourth, 267); the Men’s Rugby Club (fifth, 261); the Cowboy Country Swing Club (sixth, 234); the Women’s Hockey Club (seventh, 231); Club Tennis (eighth, 137); the U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop Excellence Fund in Civic Engagement (ninth, 133); and the Women’s Rugby Club (10th, 105).

There also was a UW Alumni Association Challenge. If 1,200 alumni gave on UW Giving Day, a $10,000 challenge fund created by the UW Foundation Board was unlocked to benefit the Alumni Association. This year, 1,796 alumni made contributions on Giving Day.

A number of first-time campaigns fared exceptionally well. These included, for the first time, UW Athletics teams. Also, student organizations stepped up, setting up campaigns, posting on social media, creating videos and contacting people interested in supporting them.

Standouts included a friendly competition between the women’s soccer and men’s wrestling teams: Soccer raised $24,546 from 267 donors, and wrestling raised $10,765 from 44 donors.

Club sports such as men’s rugby and women’s hockey also did exceptionally well, with 261 donors giving $45,388 to the Men’s Rugby Club and 233 donors giving $14,046 to the Women’s Hockey Club.

“We are very fortunate that club sports had another successful Giving Day, with four of our clubs placing in the top 10 donor challenge,” says Jay McKendall, assistant director of programs at Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center. “To see the continued support our clubs are receiving from donors on Giving Day means a lot to our office, to the teams and to our students.”

Competitions also sparked donations on giving day.

The Battle of the Deans Leaderboard was a friendly competition between the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the College of Business. The College of Business received $290,875 from 317 donors, and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences received $181,743 from 266 donors.

On the Colleges Leaderboard, the College of Arts and Sciences had the most donors by far — 1,209 donors, who raised $201,041. Raising more dollars from fewer donors was the College of Business, with 317 donors giving $290,875.

Next in line in the number of donors on the Colleges Leaderboard was the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources, whose 271 donors raised $1,791,368 — thanks to a major gift of $1.7 million from the Gretchen Swanson Foundation benefiting irrigation science and water hydrology. The colleges of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and Health Sciences also topped 200 donors, with 266 and 229, respectively.