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More than 1,250 donors contribute $1.5 million to WCU on GivingTuesday

catamount philanthropy council

Zachary Eanes, computer science and mathematics student, mans the Catamount Philanthropy Council table at the Hinds University Center on GivingTuesday.

By Bill Studenc

While participation in the annual day of philanthropy known as GivingTuesday declined across the nation in 2023, that is not the case at Western Carolina University where more than 1,250 donors contributed gifts and pledges exceeding $1.5 million to support university initiatives.

Going into GivingTuesday, which fell on Nov. 28 this year, WCU’s Division of Advancement had announced a goal of 1,000 individual donors for its 2023 effort, with an emphasis on increasing financial contributions to the Fund for WCU.

Now that the final numbers from the fundraising effort are in, the division is reporting that a total of 1,251 donors participated in WCU’s Giving Tuesday effort, surpassing the original goal by more than 25 percent. That number includes 163 new, first-time donors. The final tally of gifts and pledges raised through GivingTuesday totaled $1,571,180.51.

Those results eclipsed record-setting numbers from last year’s GivingTuesday effort, when 995 donors made gifts and pledges totaling $712,522.10.

As part of this year’s GivingTuesday at WCU, a large group of donors issued a challenge and contributed $25 for everyone who made a donation, up to 1,000 donors. That challenge resulted in an additional $25,000 to the effort.

The final outcome for WCU is in contrast to overall GivingTuesday trends, as several news media reports indicate that participation in the day of philanthropy dropped by approximately 10 percent nationally in 2023, said Rebekah Cheney, WCU’s director of annual giving.

“For the second year in a row, it’s been incredible to see such a response to the generous matching gifts offered by our chancellor, members of our WCU Foundation Board of Directors, the president of the WCU Alumni Association and the Division of Advancement leadership team. Their challenge to inspire others to donate through their generous matching challenge gifts helped us make this GivingTuesday so successful,” Cheney said.

“Meeting and surpassing goals is exciting but, more importantly, this successful effort can now provide critical support to deserving programs, projects and students here at Western. Each and every donor should know that their gift – regardless of size – will be spent making WCU a better place for our students to learn, live and grow.”

WCU’s GivingTuesday effort focused on raising awareness of and contributions to the Fund for WCU. The fund provides financial support for first-year access scholarships and for the 1889 Impact Grants program, which facilitates campus projects that increase alumni and community engagement with the philanthropic activities of the institution.

In addition to the Fund for WCU, gifts went to support other areas such as the Catamount Club, renovations to the university’s athletics facilities, academic program endowments, and annual and endowed scholarship funds for students.

Launched in 2012, GivingTuesday is a nationally observed day of philanthropy held on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and after the big shopping days of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Next year’s GivingTuesday will be on Dec. 3.

The university’s GivingTuesday gift-counting period for 2023 ran from Nov. 1 through Dec. 1 and included all gifts or pledges designated to any WCU fund.

For those who missed GivingTuesday but still want to make a gift to WCU before the end of the calendar year, contact the Division of Advancement (828-227-7124 or 800-492-8496) or by email at Online giving also is available by visiting the website

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