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'Giving Day' promotes university-wide philanthropy at Rutgers

 At Rutgers Business School, which is located on Livingston Campus, students were encouraged to donate $5 to the Finish Line Fund, which helps students nearing graduation and requiring assistance to finish their education. – Photo by Catherine Nguyen

Yesterday marked the fifth annual “Giving Day” campaign at Rutgers, a daylong event that encourages members of the University to donate and recognize the role of philanthropy. 

Nevin Kessler, president of the Rutgers University Foundation and executive vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, said that one of the purposes of the event was to highlight the importance of philanthropy in the University’s ability to fulfill its goals and missions.

“In addition to generating philanthropic support for many causes throughout the University, Rutgers Giving Day helps galvanize the University’s community around Rutgers’ priorities and principles, energizes and engages its alumni worldwide and helps inspire support of all kinds: volunteerism, advocacy and more,” he said.

Donors have the choice of which school, unit or cause at the University they want to give to. More than 150 options are listed on the Rutgers Giving Day website, including the President’s Fund, which goes to University areas where “immediate support is most vital,” the Douglass Difference Annual Fund, which goes toward creating programs and offering support to students and the Rutgers Business School Dean’s Excellence Fund, which will assist students going into accounting, finance or management careers. 

Giving Day also extends to social media, with online challenges that require posting on Facebook or Instagram with a hashtag in order to win. Some of the challenges include the Bookworm Challenge, where students must share a late-night study selfie on Instagram before 3 a.m., Scarlet Pride, which selects winners who leave a comment about why they are proud of being a Scarlet Knight and Dynamic Duo, which encourages students to share a selfie with a friend, according to the Rutgers Giving Day website.

Each of these hourly challenges had various monetary prizes, which would go to the winner’s cause of choice. 

Students who walk past the student centers will also see tabling events for Giving Day, which include giveaways and recreational activities. Those who make a gift at these tables have a chance to give their Rutgers cause extra money, according to an email sent out by Franklin Prado, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. 

Prado said he was hired by the Rutgers University Foundation to be the "Scarlet Senior Gift" campaign president for the senior class. The foundation aims to encourage students to donate to areas they care about at Rutgers.

"Students can donate to any area they care about, including hundreds of funds that support their student organizations and clubs, Rutgers student food pantry, cancer research and scholarships. Today is the largest and most unique opportunity for students to donate and rally as a student body community," Prado said.

Another aspect of Giving Day is "unlocking" donations from donors. For instance, when the count reaches 5,000 unique donors, a $100,000 donation from Ken Johnson, a Rutgers alumnus, and his wife Jackie Johnson will go toward supporting student aid. In an email sent to the Douglass community, Douglass Residential College also "unlocked" a $2,500 gift from Rutgers alumna Donna Hickey Hascher. 

Though Keesler said philanthropy should not be a one-day event, he said the impact of philanthropy deserves a day of recognition and awareness.

“The beginning of spring is an ideal time to hold an event that embodies such great hope for the future,” he said.

Historically, the amount of money that has been donated on Giving Day ranges from $1.5 to $2.5 million, Keesler said. The goal is not the amount, though, but inspiring alumni and students to participate throughout the day. 

In a few weeks, results will be available regarding the total amount of money raised and toward which causes at the University.

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