Happy Birthday Giving Day

Columbia University raised 6.9 million dollars in 2012 on higher education’s first giving day. Nowadays, it feels like a college or university runs its own 24-hour online philanthropy campaign just about every day in March and April. In addition, the fall calendar contains #GivingTuesday (also created in 2012), and lots of colleges and universities execute substantial campaigns for both. So giving days are big business. 

Over the years, some have questioned whether giving days are just a gimmick, and plenty of consultants will suggest avoiding #GivingTuesday. However, the believers dwarf the nay-sayers. A whole industry has popped up around giving day technology designed to help colleges and universities raise more funds each year and make giving day bigger and better. 

Ten years after Columbia’s first Giving Day, they’ve become a tradition at most schools. Traditions are great, but they’re also a crutch, and we love stability in higher ed. A few schools have tried giving days but doing it each year doesn’t feel quite right — it’s hard to muster the same energy and passion each year. 

It seems pretty simple though, as long as your day of giving keeps growing, then keep going! But keep an eye on how your community is responding. If you can imagine your giving day on life support in 3-4 years, maybe cut the cord now and create something new.