Third annual Pitt Day of Giving raises more than $4 million

Elizabeth Martinson

By Mary Rose O'Donnell, Staff Writer

The third annual Pitt Day of Giving took place Thursday, Feb. 28 — the University’s 232nd birthday. This year, PDoG raised $4,218,150 from 6,345 donors.

According to its website, PDoG is, “a 24-hour online fundraising event where alumni, students, faculty, staff, family, and friends come together to support the University’s founding by making a gift to the area that means the most to them.” These areas include Schools & Colleges, Places, Experiences & More, Athletics, Student Organizations and Areas of Greatest Priority.

Schools & Colleges consists of schools within the University such as Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, as well as Pitt’s satellite campuses Pitt Johnstown and Pitt Greensburg. Places, Experiences, & More encompasses a variety of organizations affiliated with the University like Heinz Chapel, Pitt Arts and Falk Laboratory School. The Athletics category lets people directly donate to teams of their choosing, like Men’s and Women’s Basketball, as well as the University Band and the Cheer, Dance & Mascot Fund. Student Organizations consists of clubs across campus, such as Club Field Hockey and the Society of Women Engineers.

Areas of Greatest Priority, however, consists of The Pitt Fund, the General Scholarship Fund and Panthers Forward. The Pitt Fund, which raised $50,200, allows the Chancellor and his staff to allocate funds to areas deemed of greatest need, including research and student financial support. The General Scholarship Fund, which raised $16,900, is solely dedicated to tuition assistance for high-achieving students. Panthers Forward, which began this past year and raised $3,740 this PDoG, is a program aiming to provide eligible graduates with up to $5,000 in direct federal loan relief.

In addition to the online donation platform, an event was held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the William Pitt Union for students, faculty, staff and the greater Pitt community to play games, eat, socialize, donate and celebrate Pitt’s birthday.

Sean Dean, the director of annual programs at the Office of Institutional Advancement, said the event was created to increase awareness and student involvement in PDoG.

“Each year we want to build upon the momentum of the previous year’s PDoG. Having an on-campus event creates engagement about the Day of Giving and extra opportunities for students, faculty and staff to give, as well as to come out and interact with the University leadership at the event,” Dean said.

Guests at the PDoG event included Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann Cudd, Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations Greg Scott, Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations Kris Davitt, Athletic Director Heather Lyke and Roc. Breakfast donuts and coffee, pizza lunch and a birthday cake dessert were also served throughout the event.

Pitt’s 2019 Day of Giving raised about $5 million less than last year’s. Graphic by Elizabeth Seward | Staff Graphic Artist

Senior psychology and sociology major Haley Plott attended the PDoG event during the birthday cake celebration. Plott brought up concerns as to what the event was accomplishing.

“If you look around, it’s mainly adults and the students who are working the event. People are just getting the food and leaving,” she said.

In addition to donations, organizations have the opportunity to earn extra funds. Bonuses are given to those organizations who receive funds from the most unique donors or gifts throughout the 24 hours. These range in value according to category and place achieved.

The University’s Schools and Colleges had two opportunities to earn bonuses, one from achieving the highest number of unique donors and the other from having the highest percentage improvement in surpassing their total number of unique donors from PDoG 2018. Health & Rehabilitation Sciences came in first place with 496 unique donors, receiving a $25,000 bonus. Pitt Bradford came in first place with 463.64 percent improvement from PDoG 2018, jumping from 11 donors in 2018 to 62 donors this year, which earned them a $25,000 bonus.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute took the top spot in Places, Experiences & More with 464 unique donors, receiving a $25,000 bonus.

The University Band Fund came in first place in the Athletics category with 179 unique donors, receiving a $5,000 bonus.

Pitt Tennis Club came in first plain in the Student Organizations category with 1,230 gifts, receiving a $5,000 bonus.

Men’s Glee Club came in second place in the Student Organizations category with 1,030 gifts, receiving a $2,500 bonus. Jake Harwas, a senior history and political science major and president of Men’s Glee Club said their extensive alumni network was essential in raising funds.

“Glee Club is lucky to have an amazing and energetic alumni base. It is one of the benefits of being the oldest non-athletic club on campus!” Harwas said in an email.

According to Harwas, current Glee Club members reached out to alumni in several ways, such as texting recent alumni, emailing middle-aged alumni and mailing letters to senior citizen alumni. Glee Club also received a bonus last year for coming in first place in Student Organizations.

Harwas said the bonus and donations received helped lower the cost of their annual retreats, pay for concert advertising and help fund their upcoming spring break tour of Charleston, South Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, and Atlanta. This year’s funds will help pay for next year’s international tour of Italy, Slovenia and Austria.

Allegations have surfaced that the Men’s Glee Club reimbursed members for donations to PDoG and offered discounts on club dues paid through PDoG. PDoG did not confirm whether these actions violate any existing rules or regulations, but a representative said PDoG would investigate any accusations thoroughly.

[Read more: Men’s Glee Club PDoG strategy includes incentives, reimbursement]

Harwas said the Men’s Glee Club is enthusiastic and thankful to receive these funds.

“Current members are always excited to help carry us to victory every year!” he said. “We would not be able to win without our young alumni, we are so thankful for them, as well as our older alumni.”