Give Day, Employee Giving on the Upswing

Large blue bow on Mondavi Center's balcony railing
<strong>Blue bows like this one on the Mondavi Center&rsquo;s balcony are on display through May 16 to signify facilities, programs that have been made possible in part by the generosity of others. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)</strong>

Quick Summary

  • Powerful combination: Picnic Day-Give Day fundraiser nearly doubles to $2 million in its third year
  • College of Biological Sciences, College of Letters and Science, and Athletics lead the way in 2019
  • ‘Davis as UC It’: Employee Giving Month sees 19 percent increase in participation

Every April, Aggies are invited to celebrate the long-standing tradition of Picnic Day and strengthen UC Davis by donating on Give Day, an accompanying fundraising event benefiting all schools and colleges across the university.

The combination has proved to be a powerhouse. Give Day 2019 (April 12-13) brought in a record-setting $2 million dollars from 4,454 gifts from around UC Davis and around the world.

“We’ve nearly doubled what our first Give Day brought in only two years ago,” Chancellor Gary S. May said, referring to the $1.2 million raised in 2017. “Give Day is really coming into its own as an event that the entire UC Davis community looks forward to and embraces. We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to strengthening our great university.”

“Give Day is really coming into its own as an event that the entire UC Davis community looks forward to and embraces.” — Chancellor Gary S. May

The UC Davis community is national and global, May noted, with gifts coming in from 46 states and 16 countries. And Give Day garnered support from those closest to campus as well. Donors included 659 employees, 157 students and 448 parents of students.

Creative challenges

This year also saw a record 145 challenge gifts totaling more than $1 million. Each challenge gift totals $2,500 or more, to be “unlocked” only after a specified number of other donations come in for the same cause.


“Challenge gifts remain the engine of Give Day because they offer an exciting opportunity for new donors to contribute to a larger group effort, allowing their individual gift to make more of an impact,” said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations. “Our established donors across UC Davis and UC Davis Health were even more creative this year in coming up with challenges to help attract new donors and broaden our base of support.”

Give Day benefited all schools and colleges at UC Davis and UC Davis Health, and units and programs including the UC Davis Library, the Arboretum and Public Garden, the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, and such student programs as We Are Aggie Pride and the ASUCD Pantry.

Of all the schools and colleges, the College of Biological Sciences brought in the most dollars ($281,764) and the College of Letters and Science brought in the most gifts (324). Athletics brought in more dollars and gifts than any other department ($294,712 and 1,924 gifts).

Employee giving

"Davis as UC It" logo

Give Day comprised only one part of April’s observance of Employee Giving Month, which saw faculty and staff step up their giving ways. Freshly branded as “Davis as UC It” — emphasizing how employees, through philanthropy, can help shape the university they would like to see — Employee Giving Month rose in prominence, visibility and participation. More than 2,200 staff and faculty members participated this year, compared with 1,850 in 2018, an increase of nearly 19 percent.

“Our culture of employee philanthropy is changing for the better,” said Kate Shasky, co-chair of the Employee Giving Committee and past chair of Staff Assembly. “I’m encouraged not only by the increase in gifts, but also by how proud people are in displaying and talking about where they gave. There’s growing awareness that we can help support the things we care about right here on campus.”

Read more about Employee Giving.

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Joan Fischer

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