On March 16th, 2016, the McGill community united to create McGill24, a one-day philanthropic challenge that proved to be the most successful fundraiser of its kind in Canadian university history.
Organized by the University Advancement Office, McGill’s first-ever day of giving brought in a total of $793,187 that will help fund a wide variety of initiatives, including scholarships, start-up programs, and research. Over the span of 24 hours, the campaign garnered 1,641 donations, which estimates to approximately one gift every minute.
Featured Faces in Online Spaces
This concentrated fundraising effort involved both on-campus events and workshops on the actual day of McGill24, as well as an extensive social media campaign that bolstered its global reach and attracted the support of alumni, students, and parents alike.
During #McGill24, I was active on Twitter and could see McGill professors, students, and alumni actively tweeting and sharing about how McGill has made (or is making) a difference in their lives, and how they would like to support McGill
– observed Dr. Madhukar Pai, tenured professor and Director of Global Health Programs at McGill, and one of fifteen “Faces of McGill” featured on the McGill24 homepage.
“On campus, we had students dropping by our ‘hot-spot’ to show their solidarity, and many left wonderful thank-you notes and messages for donors and supporters”. Donations were made through the McGill24 website, which allowed donors to designate a cause or program for their respective contribution(s). These various projects were showcased on the website, alongside stories featuring the individual McGill students and alumni.
More Than Money, A Celebration of McGill
While the primary purpose of the campaign was fundraising, McGill24 also served as a celebration of the university itself, contributing to the overwhelming outpour of support. Pauline Kress, manager of McGill Formula Electric, a team that aims to push the boundaries of sustainable transportation, noted that “McGill24 meant that student projects and hard work at McGill were finally being recognized”.
This sentiment extended into the efforts of other initiatives on campus, such as Dr. Pai’s work on global health and the recognition of his team’s endeavors.
“Though McGill has strong research teams working in global health, our investments in this area have lagged behind other schools. We are grateful to our donors, and to the University Advancement team for their support, as well as the inclusion of global health among the funding priorities for McGill24,” said Dr. Pai.
The Winning Formula: Philanthropy with a Purpose
The social media campaign, in tandem with the inherent sense of urgency due to the fixed 24-hour donation period, was the main cause of McGill 24’s success.
“I think a major factor that made this challenge as successful as it was were the stories that showed donors how valuable they were to the students and faculty of McGill […] they appealed to many donors and gave their gifts an identifiable purpose,” said Collins Oghor, another individual featured.
While the website remained a critical component for donations, the most prominent mark of the social media campaign was left on Twitter. By mid-day, #McGill24 had become the top trending hashtag in Montreal, and second in the nation.
Although the one-day challenge has ended, the campaign’s website will remain open with information about its achievements and lasting impact. McGill24 has arguably changed the climate of fundraising, moving towards a more inclusive idea of what it means to contribute.