Philanthropy showcases WKU community for Giving Tuesday

Julie Sisler

Each year following Thanksgiving, there is Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more recently, Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is a nationally celebrated holiday that takes place every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. WKU has been celebrating Giving Tuesday for five years by hosting events to raise money for various projects and scholarship funds.

Coordinator of Student & Young Alumni Engagement Allie Sharp said that this year, the WKU Student Alumni Ambassadors chose to hold their philanthropy week following Thanksgiving break to work in conjunction with Giving Tuesday.

“It’s been a blast seeing them plan and execute different events and projects for the week, including on Giving Tuesday,” Sharp said. “Their goal is to raise funds for their Student Assistance Fund, their new scholarship initiative here at WKU.”

This year, Giving Tuesday raised $118,127.57. Gunn said the event also saw almost 31.38 percent increase in the number of gifts, 16.91 percent increase of individual donors, and 151.85 percent increase of new donors.

WKU Student Alumni Ambassador Matthew Holl found that Giving Tuesday is about more than just the actual fundraising.

“During our Student Alumni Ambassadors Philanthropy Week, we are using Giving Tuesday as a way for our organization to fundraise, educate, and engage students on giving back,”  Holl said.

Holl said that the group is excited to give back to WKU through various events held throughout the week, including a Donuts for Donors event and a spirit day at Donato’s Pizza.

Giving Tuesday operated through events, but also through its constantly growing social media presence.

Assistant Director of Leadership Annual Giving Aarika Gunn emphasized the role of social media in fundraising for Giving Tuesday, describing the efforts that students, staff and donors put into getting the word out there.

“We continue to grow our social presence and this year will be no exception,” Gunn said. “We are encouraging donors to share their support on social media on Giving Tuesday by posting about why you give back to WKU.”

This ever growing public presence is in part why WKU’s Giving Tuesday success has steadily grown each year, with last year’s event bringing in contributions from over 400 donors.

“The most rewarding part of the experience is educating and engaging students on the impact they can make by donating to the Student Assistance Fund for fellow students,” Holl said.

For Gunn, it’s about even more than giving back to the university. It’s also about making sure that students attending WKU feel supported. Since so many campus resources and scholarships are made possible by private donations from WKU alumni and supporters, Gunn said she hopes Giving Tuesday events will find that they are supported by the WKU community, even those who have already graduated in sharing “Hilltopper pride” through the fundraiser.

“I think some of our students don’t realize that the university would have to close its doors halfway through the year if it wasn’t for private support – that’s crazy,” Sharp said. “Without our donors, WKU wouldn’t be as amazing as it is today. And even if you can’t give, just saying a simple ‘thank you’ to those who did makes such a big impact.”

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.