A group of students pose holding letters that spell out "THANKS"

Crowdfunding event raises nearly $50,000 for student causes

On Nov. 29, 404 members of the Case Western Reserve community came together online for the global generosity holiday Giving Tuesday, contributing $49,067 to 56 student organizations and funds.

For #GivingTuesdayatCWRU, university staff provide students the opportunity and resources to crowdfund for campus groups and activities. 

By the numbers:

$49,067 raised
404 donors
56 causes
55% alumni and friends

“Giving Tuesday is one of our team’s most fulfilling projects because we get to help students make an impact in their community,” said Jeff McCormick, Case Western Reserve University’s executive director of annual and special giving. “Student organizations are an important part of campus life, and the skills students gain from their fundraising efforts—teamwork, goal-setting and tapping into their network—certainly translate to life after school.”

Community engagement is important for a successful campaign—something the members of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at CWRU understand. The group members have some fundraising experience from their annual gala event, and activated their alumni network online with help from staff at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Of the $801 donated to the organization on Giving Tuesday, more than 70% was raised through students’ social media advocacy efforts. In addition to scholarships, mentoring programs and campus events, BLSA provides access to professional conferences to help prepare its members to enter a field in which they are vastly underrepresented.

“We are so thankful for the support we received on Giving Tuesday,” said Lulu Turner, a second-year law student and treasurer of the BLSA at CWRU. “These funds are invaluable in providing students with professional-development opportunities, including participation in the 55th Midwest BLSA Regional Convention in Chicago this February, where our mock trial team will also compete.”

Another student organization also will head to Chicago in 2023, thanks to #GivingTuesdayatCWRU. Phi Sigma Rho—a social sorority for women and non-binary individuals in STEM—raised $410, which will allow them to send a representative to the next Phi Sigma Rho Summer Convention.

Along with the other executive board members and their alumni advisor, the chapter president, Tejaswini Haraniya, spearheaded this year’s campaign and offered a $15 match to incentivize giving from her own network on social media.

Case Rocket Team was the lead fundraiser for the second year in a row, with nearly $9,500 from 49 donors.

“Offering a matching donation was a way for me to lead by example and contribute to the community that has helped me grow academically and professionally,” said Haraniya, a macromolecular science and engineering major in the Class of 2024. “We are immensely grateful to everyone who donated and advocated for Phi Sigma Rho. Every dollar makes a difference.”

Faculty, staff, students and family members contributed to various #GivingTuesdayatCWRU causes, and alumni and friends accounted for 55% of the donor pool. Among them was Umesh Rao (GRS ’93, electrical engineering and applied physics; GRS ’97, systems control and engineering), who offered a $300 matching challenge to support Engineers Without Borders/Humanitarian Design Corps at CWRU.

“As an engineer, I used to always lament that there is no equivalent of the organization Doctors Without Borders for engineers. What a surprise when I found out that CWRU had created exactly that,” said Rao, a principal design engineer with the research and product development company, Alcon Research. “The need for engineering solutions can vary across the world, and it is important for engineers to be able to tailor their problem-solving to the situation at hand.”

When asked why he stays engaged with Case Western Reserve University 25 years after graduation, Rao replied, “when you stay involved with your alma mater, you help young minds learn.”