Eddie Stuart knew that the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s 24-hour marathon fundraiser was going well when he looked up at the 12-hour mark and realized the $24,000 goal had been achieved.
“I thought, ‘My gosh!’” said Stuart, UNCW’s vice chancellor for university advancement. “We have to change our messaging and let people know we’ve met our goal.”
The campaign, with that encouraging message, continued for another 12 hours, during which another $94,000 was raised, for a total of $118,000 (and counting), according to university officials. That amount will be augmented by a private gift of $24,000 to be used for student scholarships.
“I continue to be humbled by the generosity of our donors,” Stuart said. “I think people liked the idea of that scholarship match.”
The campaign ran from 8 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday. According to a university news release, supporters of UNCW made donations online, by phone and by text, and were able to specify which program or area of the UNCW campus they wanted their donation to support.
“The most important thing that people often don’t understand is that they can direct their gift to specific programs, departments or particular scholarships,” Stuart said.
Stuart attributed the success of the 24-hour campaign in part to the spadework that his team did ahead of time: publicizing the effort and communicating the university priorities that the money would address.
“People were willing to invest in the spirit of the university, and we were supported by a very diverse group of faculty, staff, alumni, parents and a lot community members with no direct ties to the university. In the feedback we got from donors, there was so much support for the university; liking this [fundraising] idea, voicing their support for the university and for chancellor Miller,” Stuart said.
“We got emails from longtime donors who made additional gifts, saying ‘I want to be part of this,’ and asking ‘Where are we in the campaign?’” Stuart added. “We were pretty overwhelmed.”
In a news release, UNCW chancellor Gary Miller said he was impressed by the fundraising effort.
“The success of this campaign is a true testament to the passion our supporters feel for UNCW, and the commitment they've made to our students' success,” Miller said in a news release. “The generosity we've seen over the past 24 hours is certainly inspiring when we consider the impact it will have for the over 70 percent of our students who receive some type of financial assistance."
Stuart said that the donors seemed to appreciate that UNCW tries to make the most of finite resources.
“The story we tried to tell throughout the campaign is that it’s not about the money itself, but what the money does,” he said.