On Giving Tuesday, Collective Generosity Sets a New Record

The impact of 9,347 gifts to Tufts, totaling more than $4.2 million, will touch every corner of the university

With an outpouring of generosity, the Tufts community stepped up on #TuftsGivingTuesday this year to set new fundraising records for the university.

The November 30 campaign, Building a Brighter World, inspired donors from almost 40 countries and 49 states to donate more than $4.2 million, surpassing last year’s $3.5 million achievement. By the time the event wrapped up, Tufts had tallied 9,347 gifts—up from 8,500 last year—many inspired by the record-setting 92 challenges on offer.

“It's exciting and gratifying to see the Tufts community come together again for Tufts Giving Tuesday," said Bill O’Reilly, A77, A13P, trustee emeritus and Annual Giving chair for the Brighter World campaign. "Once again, this single day has inspired generosity that will now bring vital support to students and faculty across the university. Thank you to everyone— alumni, parents, staff, students, faculty, friends, and so many others—who took this opportunity to sustain and strengthen Tufts."

For the first time ever, people could catch a glimpse of life on campus during the Tuesday@Tufts livestream. A combination of live interviews and pre-recorded videos featuring students and faculty, the livestream highlighted the varied research, learning, and other activities happening across many of Tufts’ schools. Viewers also saw Tufts’ mascot Jumbo greet students at the Campus Center as they made gifts to mark the #TuftsGivingTuesday tradition.

Across all campuses and around the world, the Tufts community rallied to make gifts that touch every corner of the university. Donors supported many areas across Tufts’ schools, programs, and departments, including academics, athletics, student groups, and research.

Each school offered specific challenges, many with a focus on priorities such as financial aid and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The undergraduate schools completed several dollar-for-dollar matches: $200,000 was matched for financial aid (raising more than $400,000 total) and the COVID-19 Response Fund matching opportunities for $18,000 were quicky completed as well.   

And again this year, the dollar-for-dollar match for the Unexpected Hardship Fund was among the first completed. The fund is administered by the FIRST Resource Center and helps support unanticipated student needs as varied as course material fees, travel expenses to attend a professional conference, or business attire for a job interview.

“Thank you to everyone who made this Giving Tuesday such a success, and for giving our students the resources they need to be successful,” said center director Jared Smith, A16, AG21. "This fund helps our students access enriching opportunities that otherwise might be cost prohibitive; and in each and every case, the fund continues to help Tufts students get the most out of their Tufts experience.” 

Professional schools set their sights on challenges as well. The School of Medicine, which raised $496,950 from 515 gifts, soared through several successful challenges, including one from David Fisher, M63, who gave $30,000 to kick off the Milestone 300 Gifts Challenge. Following that, when another 200 gifts were made, a group of alumni celebrating their reunion collectively gave $20,000.

Another part of the #TuftsGivingTuesday tradition is the pride demonstrated by the more than 120 challenge donors who provide leadership and motivation all day long. George Mussalli, A95, has been a challenge donor three years in a row. “I love seeing the Tufts community pull together and give back in such a meaningful way,” he said. “The collective support has such an incredible impact on students. Tufts Giving Tuesday is a great way to show our Jumbo pride!”

Hong Kong-based parents Rulan and Haresh Melwani, A23P, A25P, members of the Parents Leadership Council, were also proud to step up as sponsors of the annual International Challenge, which brought together alumni and parents from afar. “We are thrilled to support student life, as the Tufts legacy extends well beyond an exceptional education; it shapes the person for years to come,” said Haresh Melwani.

The enthusiasm of the Tufts community ignited social media channels with a steady stream of posts from people from all over the world encouraging others to join them in the giving tradition.

Volunteers meanwhile worked steadily behind the scenes, reaching out to their friends and classmates to sustain momentum through e-mail, social media, text, and phone. (Visit givingdays.tufts.edu to see social media highlights from the day.)

Among them was Silvina Choumenkovitch, N96, N01, adjunct faculty member at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and member of the Alumni Association Executive Council. Being a Giving Tuesday volunteer, she said, is a natural extension of her role as an annual fund co-chair. 

“Giving Tuesday has become an important tradition at the Friedman School and the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging,” she said. “It is so meaningful to see the support from our entire community—alumni, faculty, scientists, staff, and friends.”

Volunteers shared that personal enthusiasm as they monitored the upward trajectory of giving throughout the day and celebrated milestones. “We've reached double digits: this is our tenth university-wide challenge of the day!” tweeted Eric White, A91, a Brighter World challenge donor.

That spirited push was evident especially for athletics, which also featured a video on social media highlighting the important role of athletics in the Tufts undergraduate experience. While encouraging participation in the Women's Basketball challenge, in which two basketball alumnae offered a dollar-for-dollar match up to $12,500, one volunteer tweeted: “This is a slam dunk: give and double your impact!”

With competitive Jumbo spirit in fine form, Tufts fans responded, motivated not only by basketball but also by dozens of other challenges to benefit Tufts varsity teams and club sports, from lacrosse, sailing, and volleyball to ultimate Frisbee and rock climbing. For athletics alone, 4,342 gifts secured almost $890,000.

“Days like Giving Tuesday just make you so grateful to be a Jumbo,” said Lauren Ebstein, A07, softball head coach, who was as invigorated by student-athletes who “really spread the word” as she was by donors who gave, including a graduate who got things going for softball with an “amazing and generous” matching gift.

“To have everyone rallying around one cause was fun and just speaks to the power of the Jumbo family,” she said. “We couldn’t do what we do without the support we get from our alumni, family, and friends and Giving Tuesday is just a great example of that.”

Faculty and staff also took the opportunity to make meaningful gifts. Carolyn Gideon, assistant professor of international communication and technology policy at The Fletcher School, and director of the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs, supported financial aid for Fletcher students. She tweeted, “I am grateful for the opportunity to teach students from all over the world and to help them pursue careers solving difficult global problems.”

Robin Smyton, assistant director of Media Relations, chose to donate to Tufts Community Grants, which support nonprofits in the university’s host communities.

“I try to donate to Tufts Community Grants every year because as a resident of one of Tufts’ host communities, the grants directly benefit local organizations that support my neighbors,” she said. “Also, I work with Government and Community Relations, and I know how dedicated they are to the communities around Tufts’ campuses, and how important those relationships are.”

At its core, the 9th annual #TuftsGivingTuesday was about the people of Tufts, making it possible for one day of collective generosity to have an impact that lasts all year.

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