CUNYTuesday is about more than the money

Giving can be the best gift of all.
Taken from last year’s #CUNYTuesday Campaign.

Sometimes giving back is the best gift of all. At least, that is what the college is hoping as they seek to break a donation record during the #CUNYTuesday fundraising campaign next month.

#CUNYTuesday, the local spin on the nationwide movement of Giving Tuesday, marked as the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a university-wide event with the goal of raising $1 million. It is an important time for Hunter fundraising efforts, since each CUNY school will get to keep the money it raises.

Most contributions come from alumni, but also from staff, faculty, current students and their parents.

“I dropped $100 toward Giving Tuesday, and I was so proud to give it back because my scholarship was alumni funded,” said Sasha Fountain, class of 2014, who donated last year.

That was the first time Fountain was financially stable enough to donate more than the symbolic $20.14 to her alma matter, and being able to make a real donation meant a lot.

“I was bawling,” she said.

In order to get the word out about the fundraiser, directors from participating CUNY schools meet up a few times to share strategies and ideas. Then they part ways to see who can raise the most money.

“We’ve kind of made it a healthy competition,” said Charlene Culler, director of annual giving for the college.

There are two challenges: one is to see which school can reach the highest dollar amount, and the other is for the number of donors. Colleges are allowed to decide if they want donors to give to specific programs or general funds.

“At Hunter, we leave it open,” said Culler. “We do encourage gifts to the Annual Fund, which is the general fund that the foundation itself pools money into.” This gives the school the opportunity to direct the funds to where they are most needed.

Culler estimates that last year’s campaign raised a total of $100,000 for the Hunter Annual Fund. The fund’s total reserve stood at $825,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

Last year Hunter led all of CUNY in both challenge categories, with more than 330 donors contributing (a 10 percent increase from 2016). This year Hunter is hoping to reach 500 donors for the school, in addition to contributing to the CUNY goal.

The 2018 campaign will be mainly conducted by email and is expected to launch on Nov. 1. “That’s our strategy — to start early,” said Culler. Organizers will also hold some kickoff rally events to garner interest in the fundraiser and help spread the word.

Last year Hunter partnered with the Senior Class Legacy Committee, a group mainly comprised of alumni volunteers who help with fundraising for graduating seniors. Organizers also reach out to athletes and honors cohorts to find student leaders who are willing to get the word out.

The college will accept donations for the whole month, until the website closes on Nov. 27. As for Fountain, she is hoping to make an even larger contribution to the Hunter campaign in 2018. “I’m so excited and so proud to do it,” she said.

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