The Big Give Exceeds UM Giving Day Goals, Supports Students

Apr. 5, 2021

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s second annual day of giving was the most successful fundraising event of its kind in UM history.

The Big Give inspired over 1,300 gifts totaling more than $280,000, exceeding the event’s fundraising goal of 750 donations and $100,000 to support UM students. Alumni, donors, parents and friends from 46 states and six countries participated in the online giving event during 24 hours from March 24-25.

Big Give donor gave in support of 24 campus areas of need, including $6,000 to Student Success Scholarship for students with financial need. They gave more than $17,500 for the Excellence Fund and $120,000 for school, college and unit Impact Funds, which provide campus leadership with the ability to direct unrestricted resources where and when they are needed most. These gifts are providing immediate support for UM students, such as emergency aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top areas of support include Grizzly Athletics, with almost 400 gifts totaling more than $120,000 and the College of the Arts and Media, which hosted its annual fundraising event Odyssey of the Stars in conjunction with The Big Give. That event, which celebrates the arts and artists, drew 81 gifts totaling more than $16,000.

The entire campus community united to celebrate and spread word about The Big Give, encouraging gifts of every size from alumni and friends in all corners of the world.

“The energy generated from such excitement all across campus helped UM reach its historic giving day total,” said Cindy Williams, president and CEO of the UM Foundation.

Big Give donors helped meet two matching gift opportunities during the event. The Journalism Board of Advisers matched every gift to the School of Journalism Impact Fund up to $3,500, contributing to a total of more than $28,000 for the fund. An anonymous donor matched $2,500 in gifts to the Wildlife Impact Fund, helping inspire a total of more than $5,900 for this area. In addition, Missoula College, the College of the Arts and Media, and the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education each received a challenge gift that was “unlocked” when supporters gave a predetermined number of donations.

Participants also had an opportunity to express their support by writing messages when they made a gift online. When one proud grandmother donated in support of the education college, she wrote, “In honor of my granddaughter, who is graduating in elementary education and will be a teacher like her mother and I are.”

Visit to read more inspiring comments from donors.

“The record-breaking success of this year’s Big Give clearly demonstrates our UM family’s collective commitment to support students, not only on this special giving day, but throughout the year,” Williams said. “We are proud to be part of this community that cares so deeply about the value of higher education and UM students as they excel in their academic journeys and beyond.

“To UM's giving community, thank you so much for your dedication,” she said. “Your generosity makes an immediate impact and inspires hope for current and future Grizzlies.”

UM’s inaugural Big Give took place in April 2020 and focused on raising support for the UM Emergency Student Support Fund to help students facing unexpected financial hardship during the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. The generous UM alumni and friends answered this call with enthusiasm, giving 516 gifts totaling nearly $100,000 for UM students and programs. The 2021 Big Give surpassed that total and other UM giving days held in the past, including the global Giving Tuesday giving campaigns held annually since 2016.

Donors who missed The Big Give but would still like to contribute to the event’s total can do so by giving at before Monday, April 12.

The Big Give is managed by the UM Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization that has inspired philanthropic support to enhance excellence and opportunity at UM since 1950.