UTSA Giving Day Exceeds Expectations

GivingDay_IMG_5711.jpgFor 1,969 minutes on April 6 and 7, the Roadrunner community united for the first UTSA Giving Day. The results exceeded expectations in a number of areas, thanks to participation from across Roadrunner Nation.

Approximately $350,000 was raised from almost 1,900 donors.

Gifts supported more than 50 programs across the university, including colleges, student activities, athletics, the UTSA Libraries, UTSA Alumni Association scholarships, and much more.

“I am proud of what we were able to achieve for the inaugural UTSA Giving Day,” said President Taylor Eighmy. “This was truly a team effort. From the staff who organized the event to alumni who championed their favorite causes, I am inspired by the enthusiastic support for the UTSA we know and love.”

Throughout the 32 hour-plus event, dozens of fulfilled challenges and matching opportunities enhanced the impact of individual donations. One such challenge provided by Scott Sawtelle and Kathleen Curry resulted in $25,000 for the UTSA Libraries and Institute of Texan Cultures through contributions from 75 donors. The challenge funds will expand the development of open-source textbooks for key courses. The free textbook program has already saved students millions of dollars in purchases.

Of the many campus organizations that benefited from support on UTSA Giving Day, the Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band attracted the most donors, unlocking a $5,000 challenge that was sponsored by alumna April Ancira ’03. “What a phenomenal way to kick off our 10th anniversary year,” said Ron Ellis, director of bands. “SOSA represents the entire student body as we have performers from every single major and college participating. It really has become a central ‘heartbeat’ of UTSA. The more than $21,000 we raised will provide scholarship support to hard-working band members and help upgrade our uniforms with multiple looks.”

The Carlos Alvarez College of Business was awarded $5,000 for raising the most money in a challenge sponsored by Campaign Leadership Council member Norman Jacobson.

Gifts on the UTSA Giving Day website from $1 up to $10,000 helped ensure success. A full list of results as well as the challenges and their donors are available on the UTSA Giving Day website.

Social media ambassadors were also key to raising awareness. More than 160 people signed up to be influencers through their social media networks to drive donations. Due to the challenging circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ambassadors were especially crucial in promoting the effort. Ambassadors contributed to meeting the goal for a donor from each of the 50 states and raised almost $35,000 overall.

Rebecca Smith Ianno ’14 and Sean Ianno ’14, who were the first donors from Hawaii, finished second among the ambassadors and were successful in completing a creative personal challenge they offered to raise $2,000. “Sean mentioned it, and we started coming up with fun ideas to motivate people to give,” Rebecca said.

At $200, Sean would dump a bucket of ice water on Rebecca. At $400, they would play egg roulette, where one of them would end up wearing the remains of a smashed egg. At $2,000, Sean would don make-up, eyelashes and Rebecca’s Ms. UTSA crown. “It’s all for a good cause, and we’re really excited to see our friends and family participating,” Rebecca said. The Iannos shared the results of their creative contest on social media.

In launching UTSA Giving Day, the Roadrunner community joined a successful trend in higher education in creating a university-specific day to celebrate philanthropy. A task force made up of university staff from development, alumni relations and university relations, as well as students from the Roadrunner Student Alumni Association, worked for seven months to guide the effort.

“UTSA Giving Day was an opportunity for us to demonstrate that every gift makes a difference and to make giving fun,” said Karl Miller-Lugo, vice president for development and alumni relations. “The first-ever UTSA Giving Day was a complete and total success. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the university’s 2020 phonathon, in which students call alumni, was suspended and other key fundraising efforts were limited. Through UTSA Giving Day, donors have responded to not only replace the funds typically raised but to also increase philanthropic support to enhance student success efforts across the university. Additionally, the effort exceeded expectations by raising more than other UT System and Texas universities with giving days.

For Miller-Lugo, the effort’s success went beyond the final totals. “To me, this was about a lot more than money,” he said. “The greatest success of this event was the engagement it created internally and externally, and the positive comments we saw and heard throughout social media streams from all 50 states and beyond.”

“I thank everyone who participated in this historic event,” Eighmy added. “You jumpstarted a tradition that will benefit students, faculty and staff for years to come.”

-Heather Green