Fundraising frenzy at colleges nets big money; Union raises $800K in a day

Albany Business Review, Megan Rogers, April 14, 2014


Union College has had plenty to celebrate this week. Not only did its men’s hockey team win the NCAA Division I national championship in the Frozen Four finals, the college also raised more than $800,000 from more than 1,000 donors in one day.

The private, liberal arts college in Schenectady, NY, is one of three local colleges that held a 24-hour fundraising event this Wednesday, its first A Day 4 U event. These events are becoming more common as colleges look to stand out in the competitive world of fundraising.

“It was far beyond our wildest expectations. It was just an outpouring of support,” said Terri Cerveny, vice president for college relations.

Also on Wednesday, Siena College in Loudonville raised $140,500 from more than 547 new donors on its tuition transition day, the point in the year when the college relies on its annual fund instead of its tuition for renovations, maintenance and scholarship support. Empire State College raised $140,000 from more than 650 donors during its first Great 24-hour Giving challenge. Last month, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute held a one-day fundraiser and raised $228,000.
Each fundraiser had a twist. Union College president Stephen Ainlay and other administrators spoke to those who donated within a certain time period. The college also held alumni events in Washington, D.C., New York City and the Albany, NY region.

Empire State College, the State University of New York’s school for nontraditional students in Saratoga Springs, also wanted to connect its community. About half of the 20,000 Empire State College students in New York are online learners and the college wanted to enhance the sense of community. It updated its online map to illustrate were support was coming from.

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