On March 13, McGill raised almost $2.3 million for its fourth McGill24, a day-long annual fundraiser. The university received a total of 5,244 donations were received, which will go toward various initiatives including funding for student-led non-profits and the creation of scholarships. Since its inception in 2016, McGill24 takes place every year on the first Wednesday after reading week and is the largest fundraiser for any Canadian university.
McGill24 is a primarily digital campaign organized by the University Advancement department which reaches potential donors through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To encourage fundraising, some donors, like the Macdonald Faculty Advisory Board, agreed to commit thousands of dollars once a certain number of donations were made. The Faculties of Medicine and Management each received over $200,000 in additional donations after reaching their respective donation targets. Gabrielle Korn, managing director of the McGill Alumni Association, believes that donations with prerequisites and the concept of a 24-hour fundraiser are important strategies for seeking philanthropic support.
“The way things get funded [at McGill] is, in large part, by government funding,” Korn said. “Philanthropy is the added value that makes McGill really be able to go above and beyond. McGill24 is a chance for McGillians to be proud of their own institution and [to] give back to McGill itself.”
McGill24 also matched funds to amplify donations. Donors like the Board of Governors and the McGill Alumni Association offered to match the donations of up to $1,000 for current students and recent graduates under the age of 35. Additionally, online donations made through Seeds of Change, a McGill crowdfunding platform that supports several athletic teams and other student initiatives, are also eligible for fund-matching. Funds are ideally matched dollar for dollar; however, since only some donors allow their support to go toward any McGill cause, there are limited matching funds.
“We would like for [donation matching] to be to a one to one as much as possible, but we didn’t quite anticipate the outpouring of student success this year, which is fantastic,” Korn said. “Our team is processing the over 5,000 donations so we don’t know fully how much money is eligible to be matched.”
Opportutoring, a student-led non-profit that provides online English lessons for refugees, is one of over 30 active Seeds of Change campaigns. Amir McGettrick, vice-president sponsorship of Opportutoring, helped to raise $3,200 for their initiative. As a team member, McGettrick also led the McGill Men’s Baseball Seeds of Change campaign last year, raising over $50,000.
“We targeted the big donors who we knew were going to donate large sums on McGill24 given the matching component, but we also reached out to family, friends, alumni [and] our previous co-directors,” McGettrick said. “That’s the thing with crowdfunding. Everyone needs to be on board because if it is just one person [seeking out donations], it’s not really going to work out.”
McGill24 was inspired by successful one-day fundraising campaigns at many prominent American universities including Columbia Univesity, Cornell University, and University of California-Berkeley. Annual Giving Associate Katherine Hales manages Seeds of Change campaigns and has seen greater student involvement in McGill fundraising events this year.
“With Seeds of Change, we had more than double the number of projects [this year] than we had last year,” Hales said. “The really exciting thing is that we didn’t have to go out [and advertise the Seeds of Change platform]. [Students] all came to us. There is a boost of publicity [for Seeds of Change campaigns] that comes from McGill24 and students now know that they can benefit from this [fundraising] platform.”