UF raised $25.3 million during its third annual Gator Giving Day fundraiser Thursday, making it the highest yielding year.
This year, UF topped its goal of 20,000 individual donations with a total of 22,198 individual donations. Last year, it raised $23.6 million, topping the previous amount of $12.6 million in 2019.
The College of Design, Construction and Planning got 1,233 contributors, making it the college with the most contributors this year. The College of Journalism and Communications was hoping to get the top spot for the third year in a row, but fell short with just 916 contributors.
Gator Giving Day is part of a larger push to keep UF rising in the ranks of top public universities in the U.S. News and World Report. UF is currently ranked No. 6, and 3% of the annual rating is factored by alumni donations.
The money will go toward funding colleges and programs across campus. UF held in-person events last year during Giving Day, but moved most online this year due to COVID-19.
Brian Danforth, the interim executive director of the UF Alumni Association, said a breakdown of how the UF Foundation’s Giving Day budget was spent this year is not available.
He said UF Advancement returns $9 for every $1 invested in fundraising, but did not elaborate further.
According to its 2019 990 tax returns, the UF Foundation spent $14 million on fundraising and reported a negative net revenue, meaning it lost $7.3 million.
GNV Unite, a protest group that has spoken out against UF’s Spring reopening plans, led a Giving Day boycott to bring awareness to UF’s shortcomings in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Danielle Hawk, the head organizer of GNV Unite, said UF is the No. 6 nationally ranked public university, but hasn’t acted like it’s top-ranked in the way it’s responded to the pandemic.
“We’re not trying to take down the institution of higher education. What we’re trying to do is hold UF to a higher standard,” Hawk said.
A total of 20 people contributed to the boycott effort, and they contacted about 250 donors during Giving Day.
Hawk thinks boycotting Giving Day one year won’t have a huge impact on students because of how much money the university already has and will continue to receive beyond Giving Day.
She argued it hurts students to tell them they’ll get the on-campus experience this semester just to be put in HyFlex classes. It’s also harmful to put students in an environment where they show up to class after partying during a global pandemic.
Some students feel differently about the boycott.
“If we want to go about protesting our COVID measures at the university, there’s probably a better way that wouldn’t cause as much collateral damage to the students,” Bradley Band, a 19-year-old UF behavioral and cognitive neuroscience sophomore, said.
The point of the boycott is to get better resources to students and faculty, but protesting the fundraiser would go against that goal, Band said.
“Cutting back on funding during Gator Giving Day would mostly only hurt ourselves,” Band said.
This article has been updated to reflect that UF raised $1.7 million more than last year's Gator Giving Day. The Alligator initially reported otherwise.
Contact Alexander Lugo at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexlugo67.
Alex is a fourth-year journalism student at UF and is in his third semester at The Alligator where he is serving as the university editor. He previously reported on university administration and the city and county commission. In his free time, he enjoys video games, traveling and being outdoors.