By: Chaim Book  | 

36 Hours of Giving Raises $2.6 Million, Falls Short of $3 Million Goal

Yeshiva University’s 36 Hours of Giving fundraising campaign — which began on April 5 at noon and ended on April 6 at midnight — raised $2,621,322 from 582 donors, the fewest number of donors in the campaign's history. All donations were to be matched one-for-one by anonymous donors with the goal of raising $3 million.

Donors had the option of directing their contributions to a number of different causes across the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs, including Student Scholarships, Student Experiences, Athletics, Cardozo School of Law, Empowering Talented Faculty and Elevating Our Campus Experience. 

The largest contributions with 349 donations totaling $2,178,5606.04 were directed to the general Annual Fund, an “unrestricted” fund in which donations “can be applied to wherever they’re needed most.” The Athletics Department was the fourth most profitable cause, raising $33,338 from 27 donors.

In 2016, YU started a ‘Giving Day’ initiative as a “24-hour blitz,” raising over $6 million in an attempt to grow the number of YU donors. In 2018, the YU Giving Day campaign was repeated on April 25 - April 26 with a telethon run by student volunteers and university employees as its main event. The campaign raised $4,538,697 from 3,004 donors, exceeding the original $3 million goal. In 2019, the Giving Day campaign was dedicated to raising funds for student scholarships. Over $5.7 million was raised from 1156 donors, exceeding the campaign’s $5 million goal. Last year, the campaign was renamed “36 Hours of Giving”  and surpassed its less ambitious goal of $2 million, receiving money from 613 donors, fewer than the expected 800 donors. 

This year's 36 Hours of Giving added momentum to “Rise Up: The Campaign for 613,” YU’s recently announced campaign that will “fund scholarships, facilities and faculty to help move Yeshiva University into its next great era.” Rise Up began in 2018, though it was not announced until this year. It is aiming to raise a total of $613 million within the next five years, $250 million of which was already raised at the time of announcement. 

Director of Annual Giving Kurt Deschermeier told The Commentator that the Rise Up campaign has “fueled increased participation and giving since its announcement.”  According to its website, the Rise Up campaign has already raised over $256 million. 

The promotion of this year’s 36 Hours of Giving was less than in past years. The campaign was announced via isolated posts on social media without emails being sent out to students.  There was also no specific branding on campus,  and last year’s theme — “Deeply Rooted, Forward Focused” — was recycled. Additionally, unlike past years, no special programs or events were associated with the campaign.

In an email to The Commentator, Deschermeier thanked student volunteers and rebbeim for their help in “outreach to friends and family,” though he did not mention any organized efforts by YU to do so. YU did, however, have a sign-up form for student ambassadors to help spread the word about the campaign, though it was not actively promoted to students. Ambassadors were provided with sample texts and social media posts to use, and they were rewarded for their efforts with a coffee tumbler “to help you rise up in the morning.”

However, many students did not even realize that a campaign was taking place. “I did not hear about this campaign at all,” said Yitzchak Tollinsky (YC ‘23). Another student added, “I got some email from my UTS rabbi but it didn’t say anything more than ‘post on your social media please.’”  

The campaign had fewer donors than ever before, continuing a trend noticed in the past. When asked if disappointed with the results, Deschermeier responded that the campaign “ surpassed 2021’s 36 Hours of Giving by more than $500,000, and exceeded our expectations heading into the event.” He added,  “We are never surprised, but always humbled, by the generosity and passion of the YU community. Thank you to all who took part!”

Photo Caption: Wilf Campus

Photo Credit: The Commentator