The Strength of Community on Giving Tuesday

On Tufts’ annual day of giving, funds were donated to support financial aid, COVID-19 response, and diversity and inclusion efforts
#TuftsGivingTuesday
“This year has been so tough for so many people, yet they came together to support Tufts. It shows that our community members are thoughtful, caring and want to stay connected," said Bina Julian, GBS17.
December 4, 2020

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In a year filled with turbulence the world over, the outpouring of support on #TuftsGivingTuesday was a powerful reminder of the strength of community. The day was fueled by 65 challenges offered by more than 115 challenge donors, more than any other prior Giving Tuesday effort at Tufts.

Their generosity, along with that of the more than 8,500 gifts that came in on #TuftsGivingTuesday, was the latest testament to the Tufts community’s shared values, and its commitment to coming together to build a brighter world.

Donors from 50 states and 48 countries contributed more than $3.5 million in support of areas across the university. These included Bina Julian, GBS17, a member of the Brighter World committee for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, who ran the Tufts Biomedical Business Club during her graduate studies and supported the Career Development Challenge. “This year has been so tough for so many people, yet they came together to support Tufts,” Julian said. “It shows that our community members are thoughtful, caring and want to stay connected, it’s really inspiring to see.”

While the numbers seen on Giving Tuesday speak for themselves, it was the promise of directly supporting graduate students that made the day so memorable, according to Julian. “It just comes down to the people,” she said. By showing up and coming together, we can take care of our people, especially the ones who really need the support.”

Thomas Saujet, A96, was another challenge donor along with his wife, Hannah Targoff Saujet, J98. “Tufts has always been very special to us,” Saujet said. “We’re so proud of the school, and we’re thrilled to support Giving Tuesday.”

Again this year, people could support their favorite area at any of Tufts’ schools, programs and departments, including athletics, student groups, and research. Each school offered its own suite of challenges, many with a focus on priorities such as financial aid, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and COVID-19 response. More than 280 gifts came into the new Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion, and over $35,000 was raised for the Unexpected Hardship Fund. Both initiatives are matched by challenge donors.

“The fact that we met and exceeded our goal is really exciting and shows the Tufts community’s support for the work that we do. These generous donations will really help cover those unexpected costs of attendance for our marginalized students, particularly students of color, and allow us do more programming jointly with Tufts’ identity centers,” said Nandi Bynoe, associate dean of diversity and inclusion. “It’s really important right now for our first-year students to have places to be in community with folks who can provide joy, support, and friendship.” 

David Fisher, M63, backed the Tufts University School of Medicine’s first overarching challenge, giving $25,000 when the school reached 250 gifts. “I had a terrific experience and a great education, and because of that I had a very rewarding career,” said Fisher. “It’s about giving back to something quite meaningful and important.”

Jennifer Hashley, director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy said the funds received on Giving Tuesday through New Entry’s first-ever matching challenge will make a big difference. “Giving Tuesday is a great way for people to put their resources into the kind of change-making programs that help us achieve our values and create the world we want to live in,” Hashley said. “And it’s a great way to end our season and all our hard work, to feel like people are investing in what we’re all about.”

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of that investment, Hashley said. “We don’t know what the world will bring—anything can happen. So, we want to make sure farmers have the resilience, skills, and training to succeed, thrive, and continue to feed us,” Hashley said. “I’m so grateful that people believe in food justice work and the future of beginning farmers.”

Tufts’ international alumni groups came together to support their alma mater from afar, with particular success in the case of the Thailand Alumni Chapter. “Top” Pongrat Aroonvatanaporn A04, AG05, was online all day, urging fellow alumni to give. The result: Their chapter came in second only to China this year. “That’s one hell of a Jumbo spirit!” Aroonvatanaporn said in a video. “Thank you everyone for the contributions from each and every single one of you—and we should get together soon.”

And while life on campus looks different, students volunteered their time and energy again this year, including Theodosia Catsiapis, A21, co-director of Tufts Student Giving. “This year especially, we are all acutely aware of the increased need for financial, academic, physical and emotional support. The success of fundraisers like Tufts Giving Tuesday helps remind me that Tufts students genuinely care about one another and truly want to help each other succeed,” Catsiapis said. “I hope the Tufts community's incredible zeal for solidarity and comradeship only continues to grow.”

The collective support of Tufts lit up social media all day Tuesday, with people all over the world encouraging others to join them in this tradition. The collective support of Tufts lit up social media all day Tuesday, with people all over the world encouraging others to join them in this tradition.  Visit givingdays.tufts.edu to see social media highlights from the day.

“I always love #TuftsGivingTuesday,” said Bill O’Reilly, A77, A13P, Trustee emeritus and Annual Giving Chair for the Brighter World campaign, “but this year, during a time when we all can’t be together as much as we would like, it felt particularly meaningful to have this online tradition to lean on. It really is a wonderful day—to see people from across the Tufts global family come together, celebrate our community, and support the amazing work of our students, faculty and staff. Thank you!”

Giving Tuesday gifts, like all gifts to Tufts, also support the priorities and aspirations of Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts.

Monica Jimenez can be reached at monica.jimenez@tufts.edu.