The Pitt community came together on Feb. 23, 2021, to support the areas of the University most important to them, setting new records on the fifth annual Pitt Day of Giving. More than 11,100 donors—the most ever—gave to scholarships, research, academic programs, student organizations, athletics and other vital initiatives, such as The Pitt Fund, Student Emergency Assistance Fund and Panthers Forward. Donors supported hundreds of funds representing every University of Pittsburgh school, college and campus.
Pitt received gifts totaling nearly $2.5 million from alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends in all 50 states and 31 countries during the day-long event.
“The Pitt community is simply amazing, and once again, Pitt Day of Giving was a big win,” said Kris Davitt, senior vice chancellor for philanthropic and alumni engagement. “Everyone involved created an atmosphere of excitement and momentum through the online challenges and social media. It was terrific.”
Pitt Day of Giving (PDoG) was a trending topic on social media all day. Additionally, more than 300 supporters signed on as social media “ambassadors,” who used their personal accounts to encourage others to make gifts. One, Julia Marques (A&S ’03), posted on Instagram, “I love opportunities to support my University. My donation went to the Pitt Women’s Basketball team. Why? Because those ladies are absolutely incredible. They represent our University with grace and heart.”
And dozens of supporters participated in the Color Your Cathy challenge. Seventy-five supporters posted their Cathedral of Learning artwork on social media, proving how eager PDoG donors are to show their Pitt pride. Among the winning entries was Sarah DeMaria (A&S ’13, EDUC ’15), who won the opportunity to select which school or program would win Color Your Cathy challenge funds.
“I am choosing to give this $500 to the Stewart Endowed Student Research Fund because of the positive impact the Honors College and their research scholarship—the Brackenridge Fellowship—has had on my life,” said DeMaria. “Because of my research experience that was funded by the fellowship, I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD and delve more deeply into research, which I am doing now back at Pitt!”
Four other winners chose which area at Pitt would receive $500, including an unexpected winner selected as the result of a tie. One challenge judge found it too difficult to choose between entries submitted by two of Pitt’s youngest supporters and offered to fund another challenge so that both could be declared winners.
Pitt faculty and staff members—2,297 of them—handily surpassed a challenge set by Chancellor Emeritus Mark A. Nordenberg by making a gift on Pitt Day of Giving. With the “2,000 faculty and staff donor challenge” met and exceeded, Nordenberg will award an additional $5,000 to the LGBTQIA+ Research/Outreach Fund that received the most gifts from faculty and staff.
Challenge funds—which were provided, in part, by University trustees and other loyal donors—helped bring the Pitt community together to participate in the friendly online competitions. Throughout Pitt Day of Giving, gifts were tracked in real time and posted to online leaderboards. By the end of the day, all the schools, programs and student organizations had received gifts from numerous donors and those that landed at the top of the boards received even more funding by winning the challenges.
Among the challenges and winners were:
- Schools and College Participation Challenge: Pitt-Johnstown, $10,000; Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, $7,500; Swanson School of Engineering, $5,000
- Schools and College Raise the Bar Challenge: Pitt Law, $25,000; Swanson School of Engineering, $15,000; Pitt-Johnstown, $10,000; and 17 schools that exceeded their previous year’s donor count will receive a share of $50,000
- Places, Experiences + More Participation Challenge: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the College of General Studies, $10,000; Pitt Global, $7,500; Falk Laboratory School, $5,000
- Students Organization Challenge: Pitt Rowing Club, $5,000; Catholic Newman Club, $2,500; Pitt Men’s Rugby Club, $1,000; Pitt Men’s Glee Club, $1,000
- Athletics: Cheer, Dance and Mascot, $6,000; Band Championship Fund, $4,000; Cathy & John Pelusi Family Life Skills Program, $2,000
- Power Hour Challenges: Pitt-Greensburg, Falk Laboratory School and the Pitt Rowing Club
- G.O.L.D. (Graduates of the Last Decade) Challenge: 1,369 young alumni made gifts to release $5,000 to the Catholic Newman Club, which received the most gifts from young alumni throughout the day
“We are thrilled to have inspired so many Pitt alumni and friends to join us for the fifth annual PDoG. The generosity we receive in one day supports Pitt students all year by funding scholarships and enhancing the student experience. Gifts to our schools, academic programs and research efforts allow Pitt to further its academic mission and ensure the University’s ongoing success,” said Jake Strang, assistant vice chancellor for alumni annual giving.