The 97 who so generously supported USF Sarasota-Manatee contributed to the university through the “2015 Giving Challenge,” the annual 24-hour fundraising spree that ended noon Wednesday.
After the event, USF Sarasota-Manatee tallied its official contribution total at $11,450. However, because of generous matching grants from The Patterson Foundation, the Florida First Generation Matching Grant Program and the university, that amount jumped to $45,800.
“The power of this community to come together for a 24-hour period to give back to the many organizations that call Sarasota and Manatee counties home is truly unbelievable,” said Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for University Advancement. “I cannot express how thankful we are to everyone who participated, as well as to The Giving Partner and the different organizations that made this event a reality.”
The communitywide Giving Challenge is the area’s biggest fundraising event of the year. This year, some 450 local charities, schools and other groups signed up to benefit from the event. Altogether, $6.7 million was raised. The Patterson Foundation provided an additional boost with its promise to match every gift up to $250 from first-time donors. Donations to USF Sarasota-Manatee that did not come from first-time donors were matched by the university.
USFSM students, staff and faculty played their part as well. Students, in particular, showed their school spirit. Starting noon Tuesday when the challenge officially opened, a dozen “Student Ambassadors” fanned out to local businesses with school mascot Rocky to urge support for USFSM.
Other Student Ambassadors operated a Giving Challenge command post at the university’s board room where they kept a running tally of donations and posted instant “thank you” notes to donors on social media. Every dollar collected during this year’s challenge will go toward helping USF Sarasota-Manatee students who are the first in their family to attend college.
“This is an exceptional opportunity to have every $25 raised turn into $100 of new scholarships for first-generation students on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus,” Dr. Sandra Stone, USFSM regional chancellor, said of the program.
The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.