The University of Rhode Island held its first-ever Giving Tuesday event on Dec. 1 with the help of the URI Foundation and it was, by all accounts, a success.

The original goal amount the Foundation was trying to reach was $50,000 donated from 250 donors. Not only did the initiative raise twice that amount – including $50,000 in online gifts alone– but it also doubled its goal in the amount of donors.

To understand the impact the day had, first you must know what Giving Tuesday is all about. It follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest shopping days of the year, and provides people with the opportunity to give back to their community. 

Motivated by the idea of increased charitable giving, and following the example of dozens of other colleges and universities who have rolled out Giving Tuesday initiatives, URI took the lead in trying to create its own special version of Giving Tuesday so that students, parents, alumni and faculty could give back over the 24-hour period. 

The event held this year was in planning for more than a year and was led by a team that included the URI Foundation’s Director of Annual Giving Bernadine Sadwin, her team, and others, including the Foundation’s Communications and Advancement Services staff. 

Student Philanthropy Council members, Student Alumni Association members and student volunteers helped to rally support for this event both on campus and off. Social media posts, email communication and two videos – produced to build excitement leading up to the day – were shared with alumni, students, friends and the campus community. 

Booths, staffed with student volunteers as well as alumni relations and Foundation staff, were set up in the Memorial Union for people to give gifts as they passed by.  The Foundation’s Student Calling Program reached out to members of the URI community throughout the day and evening to secure gifts.

URI’s Giving Tuesday event featured the slogan “Today is the Day,” and clearly it resonated with folks. The Foundation found success in capturing donor interest for the event and plans to repeat or even expand on the one-day giving initiative concept next year.

“We were really happy with the results but also with the level of excitement that was built around URI’s Giving Tuesday,” Bernadine Sadwin, director of annual giving at the URI Foundation, said. “The URI community, including our alumni, really stepped up and showed their commitment to supporting URI.”