Big Give raises more than double funds from 2015 with about $11.6M

Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

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The Big Give, a campus fundraiser, raised more than $11.6 million this year to support more than 400 campus programs including student organizations, research, financial aid and athletics.

The third annual Big Give raised more than twice as much as last year, according to Lishelle Blakemore, the executive director of annual programs, including the Big Give. More than 9,000 alumni, parents, students and community members donated.

“One of the things we’re trying to accomplish is to raise awareness about the importance of giving back to Cal, whether it’s $10 from a student or $1,000,000 from an alumni,” Blakemore said.

Cal Athletics raised the most funds at more than $2 million, followed by the College of Engineering and Haas School of Business. Other organizations such as the United Nations Association, the Lawrence Hall of Science and the African-American Student Development office also participated.

Each group uses the money it raises to support its own student programs, which Blakemore said allows donors to contribute to the organizations they care for most strongly.

Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center participated in the fundraiser by running a social media campaign and contacting prior donors. The funds will help support the group’s fellowship to send students around the world to work toward human rights.

“The Big Give is one way for us to reach some new donors and be involved in something that’s pretty fun and is a little more light than the kinds of appeals we usually make,” said Andrea Lampros, the communications director for the Human Rights Center. “We’re dealing with human rights, and it’s not usually ‘go Bears.’ ”

Blakemore said student involvement was one of the keys to the success of this year’s Big Give. More than 1,000 students donated — twice as many students as before, according to Blakemore.

But the repeated emails asking for donations raised concerns from some students.

Campus junior Liliana Trujillo said she felt bad for not donating but called the request for students to donate beyond tuition “ridiculous.” She added that UC Berkeley is relying too much on alumni endowments and other private funds, citing that only a small portion of the school’s funding comes from the state.

“The school should remain public, not just for the sake of saying we’re the No. 1 public university, but to serve the community,” Trujillo said. “If (UC) Berkeley isn’t public, what university will be?”

Sixteen percent of UC Berkeley’s 2014-15 budget came from donations, compared to 29 percent from tuition and fees and 13 percent from the state, according to José Rodriguez, editorial director of university alumni relations.

ASUC Senator Chris Yamas, a transfer student, said funds from the Big Give will help support the Transfer Center’s renovations.

“Big Give is a great idea, it’s a great concept, it’s an important concept,” Yamas said. “It’s also a sad concept because it’s admitting the fact that we don’t have the support from the state that we used to have.”

Contact Lillian Holmes at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LillianQHolmes.