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Why Give | Impact stories

Game on: How Giving Day brings out the UBC community’s competitive spirit—and generosity

Last year was our first ever in-person event and it showed us what's possible in 24 hours when we come together. Giving Day is back on April 5, 2023—let's make it even better this year!

In 2021, UBC held its first ever university-wide Giving Day. Due to the pandemic, however, the event was held entirely online. 2022 would be different—but it was a last-minute decision.

“We always wanted to have an on-campus celebration for Giving Day but weren’t sure if we could make it happen in 2022. As event restrictions started to ease, we made the final decision to have an in-person event about a month before,” says Carly Barrett, Development Officer and project manager for UBC Giving Day. “Although last minute, I was hopeful we would have a good turnout.”

Despite the restrictions, 2021’s UBC Giving Day had still been a tremendous success, connecting our community virtually when we needed it most. Still, Carly wondered if the community would come out to a UBC Giving Day event in real life?

“For me, it was one of those things: ‘Well, I think it’s fun and interesting to learn about these causes—but is that the reality for someone who’s not as engaged as I am?’ We were so excited to see the incredible support from staff and students—the event exceeded our expectations and really brought UBC Giving Day to life!”

Intended to inspire 24 hours of philanthropy among alumni and donors—as well as university staff, faculty and students—Giving Day 2022 exceeded expectations. It went so well, in fact, that there were more than 800 attendees at events across the two campuses, and more than 2,300 donors. The exuberance of collegial spirit among university staff and students impressed Allyssa Bossio, who supported UBC Okanagan Men’s Rugby, one of seven UBC Okanagan causes which raised a total of over $82,000.

“My number one memory is seeing 300+ students eager to participate and learn more about Giving Day and the funds we were promoting,” says Allyssa. “Also, having UBC Okanagan Principal, Prof. Lesley Cormack, there to pose for photos with our mascot, Scorch, and with the B.A.R.K. therapy dogs, was also a highlight!”

The UBC Faculty of Applied Science’s Geering Up Engineering Outreach program is on a mission to provide kids in BC hands-on experience of STEM subjects. Project lead Ana Merino saw Geering Up’s large supporter base mobilize to make it another Giving Day success story.

“This fund was chosen because it is distinctly Applied Science and supports the faculty’s work to grow EDI in STEM,” says Ana. “Donations to Geering Up will be used to reach even more students across BC.”

Two of Ana’s strong memories during the event were “seeing people so engaged with our project,” and “working with the Geering Up team closely to plan the in-person event.”

A feature of Giving Days that makes them unique are challenge funds—which offer donors and their favourite causes the chance to unlock more support, as Carly explains.

“Challenges can unlock additional funds for the causes our community cares about most,” says Carly. “In 2022, we offered challenges with a range of criteria.  For example, the cause with the most donations during a certain time of day could unlock extra money. Basically, it brings a little bit of gamification to UBC Giving Day and brings out peoples competitive spirit.”

Carly also found it unlocked a healthy amount of competition between different causes.

“The UBC Thunderbirds Women’s Soccer team was particularly smart for UBC Giving Day this year. They developed a strategy to motivate and activate their community. The coaches, student-athletes, and parents all saw the challenges, and they’re like: ‘Okay, this is a game—and this is what we want to win.’ That competitive element of Giving Day is really fun!”

By the end of the day, UBC Giving Day 2022 raised over $530,000 for great causes across both campuses. It also demonstrated a sense of community and pride which, looking ahead, Carly sees increasing next year.

“The momentum grows each year,” says Carly. “It’s a day that is not only about philanthropy but also creates a sense of pride in being part of the university—and being proud of what our broader community achieves together.”

UBC Giving Day will be back on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.