What three years of 24-hour donor challenges taught us

Make sure a power outage isn’t planned for the building where you’re counting gifts, and other lessons learned along the way.

You might be familiar with this little thing Saint Mary’s College has hosted for the past few years called the 24-hour Donor Challenge.

When the clock started ticking on that first event back in 2013, we were excited but a tiny bit nervous as some wondered whether Saint Mary’s could reach the 500-donor goal by midnight.

Well, 24 hours and 901 donors later we had our answer.

Since then, Saint Mary’s has hosted two more donor challenges, each one inspiring an even more incredible outpouring of support from our community — from first-year students to an alumna from the Class of 1942, from parents of current students to those whose daughters have long-since graduated, from veteran faculty and staff to newly-hired employees.

Hosting three donor challenges taught us a lot. Like, make sure a power outage isn’t planned for the building where you’ll be counting gifts all night (Lesson #1 from 2013).

Here are a few other things we’ve learned along the way:

Over the course of Saint Mary’s three donor challenges, you gave nearly 7,000 gifts worth $1.23 million (including the challenge gifts your participation helped the College secure).

Each year, you surpassed the donor challenge goal with plenty of time still on the clock.

And then you ran up the count as we waited for midnight.

Your social media posts during past donor challenges made a compelling case for the value of a Saint Mary’s education and why this experience is worthy of support.

And your corner of the social media world responded. (True story: The aunts of two different BOLD alumnae called in to make gifts last year because of the posts they saw in their nieces’ social media feeds.)

Remember this?
Join this year’s conversation with #MySMCStory

There’s strength in numbers.

Saint Mary’s donor challenges are truly a community effort in which each act of generosity — regardless of amount — moves us closer to our goal. It’s not about any one donor or gift, it’s about all of us and what we can accomplish.


Saint Mary’s 24-hour Donor Challenge has always been about bringing this amazing community together to achieve something bigger than any one of us could do alone — for the benefit of a place that means so much to us all.

That’s why we’re excited about the return of our donor challenge this week!

If 3,500 people make gifts that day, two anonymous donors will give an additional $150,000 to the Annual Fund.

We hope you’ll continue to help spread the word about the donor challenge to your corner of the Saint Mary’s community so we can demonstrate once again what is possible when #BellesGiveBack.

You can make your gift and follow our progress at saintmarys.edu/donorchallenge on April 21.

Don’t forget to join in the social media conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We’ll catch up with you there — as soon as we let our building services colleagues know not to power down Hagger until after April 21.