FAIRMONT – At approximately 6:15 p.m. Thursday, the Fairmont State Foundation had raised $134,149 in donations, 53 percent of its goal of bringing in $250,000 in one day.
It was Fairmont State University’s first ever Day of Giving, where the Fairmont State Foundation aimed to raise a quarter of a million dollars in just 24 hours.
“The goal is really to increase the number of donors who give to Fairmont State University, but also to increase awareness about the power of philanthropy,” said Julie Cryser, president of the Fairmont State Foundation. “Really it's not about how much they give, it's just the idea of getting them to give and see the power that their dollars have.”
Individual donors to the school only had to raise about $150,000, because there were several community agencies and organizations who pledged to match funds throughout the day, with a total of about $100,000 pledged.
“We have community members and regional businesses that have put up matches for everything from athletics to all the various schools,” Cryser said. “The idea is to have people give to those various funds so that we can get those matched with those dollars.”
Givers could donate their money to a certain fund Thursday, whether it be athletics, the School of Business or a specific scholarship. Cryser said the foundation exists to serve the students. She said 90 percent of Fairmont State students receive financial aid.
“The Fairmont State Foundation exists to benefit the university,” Cryser said. “The funds that come in today will be mostly for scholarships and to benefit the students and to make sure student experiences are the best possible.”
The university’s marching band is one of the organizations that donors could give directly to, a move welcomed by the band director.
“The band, they have really had an explosive, exciting marching band season,” said Greg Mulzet, director of the Fairmont State band program. “A lot of high school kids want to join the group and it looks like it’s going to keep growing, so I think that’s why people want to give right now.”
According to Mulzet, the band’s budget is lower than it was five years ago, so donations to the school and the cause will help the group operate at full capacity.
“If we don’t get more funds, then we’re going to be in trouble,” Mulzet said. “We need to make sure we have enough instruments for all the students who want to be in band, we need to make sure we have enough uniforms, we need to be able to pay for travel, food at band camp... The list is never ending.”
As another way to raise money throughout the day Thursday, the Fairmont State Foundation and its partner organizations issued a number of challenges to students and community members. The goal was to “unlock” donation dollars from a certain giver.
For example, the Westside Market would give $7,500 if 30 people took a selfie and posted on Instagram in front of the store.
“We’ll have a one-to-one match on all those dollars,” Cryser said. “We’ve raised about $100,000 in matches and challenges, so we’re hoping we can get all those matched today and raise over $250,000.”
The day was long and arduous, but rewarding for Cryser, who monitored donations and gifts through a real-time website. While the total amount was not yet calculated at press time, Cryser believed the goal was attainable, as evidenced by the amount raised even before 11 a.m.
“I got up this morning at about 5 to start checking it,” Cryser said. “We’ve raised a little over $82,000 for 10 different areas,” she said at around 10:45 a.m.
Cryser said that people can still donate online in the next week or so at falconsgive.fsufoundation.org.