Carnegie Mellon's second annual Giving Tuesday breaks previous records

Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor

For the second year in a row, Carnegie Mellon broke university fundraising records on #givingCMUday as part of the university’s participation in the international donor holiday, #GivingTuesday. This was Carnegie Mellon’s third year participating in the global day of giving that was originally started in 2012 by New York community cultural center 92nd Street Y. For the event, Carnegie Mellon encouraged constituents all over the world to donate to university funds, incentivizing participation with challenges on social media and with events on campus.

The Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving initially brought the event to campus in 2014, bringing out 533 donors. In 2015, Carnegie Mellon students, parents, alumni, staff, and faculty nearly doubled that benchmark and broke a university record for most donations received in one day, totaling 1,209. This year, the same community turned out to break that record again, boasting 1,350 donations that added up to $227,849.

As with years past, the Office largely carried out the events through social media. They conducted six pre-announced challenges and one pop-up challenge via social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The challenges asked participants to hashtag photos of themselves in Carnegie Mellon swag, share their favorite spot on campus, reflect on their Carnegie Mellon experience, and shout out what makes them proud to be a Tartan. Prizes for randomly selected winners included $500 to a campus fund of their choice, and, new this year, the opportunity to have lunch with President Suresh and Mrs. Suresh or participate in a tour of the steam tunnels with Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Gina Casalegno.

Also on social media, junior math major and Assistant Director for Donational Transparency on the Student Body President’s cabinet, Olivia Cannizzaro, hosted Facebook Live events throughout the day. One video featured two organizations that were awarded $500 prizes in last years challenges. Sophomore statistics major Emily Chen from service organization CMU Juntos, described how their prize allowed them to purchase construction materials to build latrines for a community in Nicaragua, and senior saxophone performance major Laurel Beatty from School of Music’s Heritage Scholarship, shared that, during the last Giving CMUday, their campaign reached the $50,000 benchmark that allowed their scholarship to be endowed.

On campus, representatives from the Office of Annual Giving tabled in the Cohon Center, asking students to post a sticky note with the name of a campus fund that deserves a $500 gift. Six of those sticky notes were awarded $500. Each college also hosted its own events in their buildings across campus, promoting the spirit of giving back.

New to the lineup this year was the kickoff event Plaid Palooza. At midnight, first thing on Tuesday, over 100 students gathered in Rangos to enjoy tacos and popcorn, music, a photo booth to share photos on social media with the day’s hashtag, and an educational opportunity offered by the Office of Annual Giving to develop awareness of the day’s efforts and establish the transparency with the giving process. Two randomly selected students who posted photo booth pictures on social media were also selected to win $50 gift cards to the bookstore.

Another new initiative this year was the Presidential Student Donor Match. President Suresh established a fund of $25,000 to match undergraduate donations of $5 or more on #givingCMUday with a companion donation of $25 to the CMU Experience Fund. According to Director of Annual Giving Mary Ann McCollough, President Suresh has generously promised to continue to offer matching donations at different amounts throughout the rest of the school year until the fund has been used. McCollough also shared that this Donor Match initiative came as the result of efforts from student Olivia Cannizzaro and Student Body Vice President and senior computer science major Aaron Gutierrez

As the donations continue to be processed, the Office will have more information about which organizations will receive each $500 award, but so far organizations ranging from CMU in Haiti to the Treblemakers have been selected as winners of the social media challenges. The organization with the most unique donors giving $5 or more, and a randomly selected organization with at least 15 donors giving $5 or more will also win a $500 prize.

According to McCollough, a donation to the university on #givingCMUday is a meaningful expression of confidence: “You spend more than $5 on a cup of coffee, or going out and having a beer on the weekend. However, taking that and directing it to the university in some fashion is really a vote of confidence in this university and what it is doing for you as a student,” especially to funds that are not supported by tuition.

The donation form, which is Carnegie Mellon’s standard donation form hosted on, gives donors the option to choose any campus fund ranging from academic departments and student activities, to athletic teams and Greek organizations.