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January 11, 2021
What difference can 24 hours make in the life of a university? Seattle U Gives rallies the entire Seattle U community for a full day of giving. Five years into this annual community-driven fundraising and engagement initiative, Margaret Neitzel, director of Annual Giving, and Ali Bessee, assistant director of Annual Giving, share why February 25 is important to Seattle U’s future.
What makes Seattle U Gives different than other fundraising initiatives at the university?
Margaret Neitzel (MN): Seattle U Gives is different because it celebrates the power of many gifts making a large impact during a short period of time. We like to think of Seattle U Gives as ‘democratic fundraising.’ More than 50 percent of last year’s gifts were $25 or less and more than 50 percent of donors were making their first-ever gift to the university. On this special day, students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends can all come together at the grassroots level to make a difference for the programs closest to their hearts.
Additionally, thanks to the generosity of major donors, even the smallest gifts can make a huge impact by helping to unlock challenge funds. For example, if 75 donors support scholarships—with gifts of any size—it will unlock an extra $7,500! The focus is on reaching and inspiring as many people as possible, so even those who are unable to give can help by spreading the word on social media. This creates a fun, competitive, heartwarming atmosphere online as current students, professors and coaches, parents, and alumni from across the decades all share how Seattle U has impacted their lives and root for donations to their area of choice.
What are the goals/intended outcomes of Seattle U Gives? Remind us about last year's Seattle U Gives success and what you are hoping to achieve this year?
Ali Bessee (AB): Last year, in just 24 hours our community made more than 2,600 gifts, raising more than $450,000 in support of dozens of causes. In 2021, we hope to build upon this success by reaching 2,800 gifts and at least 800 alumni donors.
How has Seattle U Gives evolved since its launch?
MN: This year’s Seattle U Gives marks the university’s 5th annual online giving day. Since its launch, Seattle U Gives has become a signature event, inspiring the entire Seattle U community. Not only have the dollars raised and number of donors quadrupled since our first year, but we’ve also seen more areas participating and massive growth in the number of people posting on social media—#SeattleUGives—to hype up their favorite cause or ask friends to join in donating.
Combining all of this, we can see how Seattle U Gives has increased the ability of every community member to make a difference in the campus causes they care about most—whether through giving or posting or both.
Once a donor makes a gift, what can they expect from Seattle U?
MN: Seattle U Gives is so impactful because in just 24 hours, thousands of SU community members come together to make thousands of gifts, big and small, to their favorite university initiatives. It takes just 60 seconds to support your favorite cause, from student scholarships and athletics, to the Seattle U Youth Initiative and the Office of Multicultural Affairs Food Pantry, to programs and services all across campus—plus so much more. With thousands of folks participating, every gift creates ripples of impact on students, our communities and the greater good.
And 100 percent of every gift goes toward the cause specified. Donors will be updated on the day’s success at our midnight close and on the meaningful impacts of their gift. Whichever cause you choose to support, know that you’re not only making a difference for that program, but also in the lives of thousands of students and the more just and humane futures they’re building.
Are donors able to choose what fund their gift supports?
MN: Yes! At midnight on February 25, Seattle U Gives becomes live and donors may make their gift to the area of their choosing. Explore the causes you care about in advance at Seattle U Gives. Don’t see your favorite program or initiative? You can always choose the area that most closely fits and write your detailed wishes in the comment box. We’ll make sure your gift gets to where you want it to go.
Since Seattle U launched Seattle U Gives, what are examples of its impact?
MN: Seattle U Gives makes an impact on a number of causes, but here are just a few examples:
In the past there have been challenge gifts. Can we expect challenge gifts this year and how do they help?
MN: Yes. Challenges are extra pots of money, offered by generous donors, that are unlocked once a set goal is reached, such as ‘50 gifts to the SU Fund will unlock an additional $10,000 donated by the Board of Regents.’ They help to generate competition, incentivize outreach and inspire giving because they’re the ‘secret sauce’ that makes every gift so important. This year, we are expecting dozens of challenges that will unlock once gift goals are met in various areas. Stay tuned for these to roll out on the website in the weeks leading up to Seattle U Gives.
One aspect of Seattle U Gives is engagement. In addition to making a gift, how can alumni get engaged?
MN: This year’s Seattle U Gives is special as all gifts made by alumni will count toward Our Moment for Mission: The President’s Challenge. This initiative is President Sundborg’s personal call for 10,000 alumni to join together in ensuring that students continue to receive a Seattle U education that ignites their potential and empowers them to build a better future for all.
In addition, alumni support during Seattle U Gives is especially important because:
In addition to participating in Seattle U Gives, alumni can engage with Our Moment for Mission by attending upcoming virtual events, reading their monthly issue of the SU Voice and volunteering all across campus. Giving of your time—through attendance, mentoring, speaking in the classroom or advising a board or club—not only shows students what it means to be a Redhawk for life, but also ensures they have a rich educational experience filled with access to a diverse array of leaders and role models.
One opportunity for our alumni is to serve as a Seattle U Gives social ambassador. What are the responsibilities of a social ambassador?
AB: Social media sharing is key to the success of Seattle U Gives. Alumni and all community members can help broaden the reach of Seattle U gives by emailing, sharing, forwarding and posting what they love most about the university. We are all connected by such a diverse array of life experiences and friends. By sharing your unique story or passion, you can inspire others to do the same and expand support for the cause you care about most. Sign up as a Social Ambassador to access helpful tools and resources or simply use #SeattleUGives.
As we are in the final year of The Campaign for the Uncommon Good, how does Seattle U Gives support the campaign initiatives?
MN: Last year’s unprecedented Seattle U Gives success was integral in building momentum toward this final year of The Campaign for the Uncommon Good. More than 2,200 generous donors came together to participate in Seattle U Gives and make a lasting impact on the largest campaign in the university’s history. Each pillar of the campaign is represented in Seattle U Gives and the day offers a chance for everyone in our community to be a part of its historic close. This year, we hope to build upon our success in 2020 and close out both The Campaign for the Uncommon Good and Father Steve’s Our Moment for Mission Challenge strong.
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