UC Berkeley holds second annual online fundraiser

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Kore Chan/Senior Staff

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On Wednesday, UC Berkeley hosted its second year of the Big Give, a campuswide online philanthropy event.

The campaign lasted 24 hours, officially beginning Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. during the week of the Big Game. Community members — alumni, parents, students and faculty — were given the opportunity to give to their favorite campus organizations with tax-deductible donations.

According to the Big Give website, a total of $5,538,649 was raised from 8,149 contributions this year — nearly $200,000 more than last year.

Jose Rodriguez, editorial director of marketing communications in Development and Alumni Relations, said that the minimum contribution amount was $10 and that there were no goals in terms of how much money was to be raised. Rodriguez said the fundraiser was focused more on participation instead.

“One of the hallmarks of this year’s campaign is the wide support across the campus community,” said Lishelle Blakemore, executive director of annual programs in the Development and Alumni Relations.

A leaderboard on the event website kept track of which organizations raised the most money and ranked them. The final results indicated that the campus College of Engineering raised the most money — approximately $1,100,000 — and the Lawrence Hall of Science had the largest amount of participation.

Karen Rhodes, executive director for marketing and communications in the College of Engineering, said the college put an emphasis on social media for its campaign, creating a collaborative space for community members to showcase both photos and posts about their experiences on campus.

“(The social media wall) told a really fun upbeat story of the Big Give that got people engaged,” Rhodes said.

The event was also marked by contests throughout the day as “a way to inspire and motivate people to contribute,” Blakemore said.

After the end of the Campaign for Berkeley — a multiyear fundraising event — last year, the Big Give was created. Blakemore said her office had started the fundraiser after seeing other universities successfully carry out similar events.

“We thought that it would be fun to leverage that excitement (of the Big Game) and create a new tradition of philanthropy as part of the week of Big Game events by having this one-day fundraising campaign,” Blakemore said.

According to Stefano DellaVigna, a campus professor in the departments of economics and business administration, such fundraisers operate on the mixture of three things: people’s altruism, the good feeling in giving and social pressure.

“The Big Give is about triggering a warm glow,” DellaVigna said.

According to Rodriguez, last year’s campaign was about what made the campus an important institution, and this year’s theme was to “think bigger.”

“It gave people an opportunity to express, in their own words, how Berkeley helps them to think bigger,” Rodriguez said.

Contact Ericka Shin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ericka_shin