University at Albany – Student Emergency Fund Campaign

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TitleStudent Emergency Fund Campaign
InstitutionUniversity at Albany
Submitted ByBrian Rudolph
Associate Director, UAlbany Fund
CategorySpecial Campaigns/Challenges
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2020

The Student Emergency Fund campaign was born out an immediate need for financial assistance for students as a result of the pandemic. The active campaign lasted for approximately 2 months from mid-March to mid-May and became the focus of our fundraising university-wide.

What makes this unique

Four things stick out:
1. Adaptability
2. Teamwork
3. Cost
4. Impact
1. We had spent months planning for our next (3rd) March Matchness giving challenge, where we utilize matching gifts to specific departments or projects at the university, to increase our philanthropic activity in what is traditionally a slower time on the calendar when the pandemic hit and shut down our campus. It was immediately clear it would have been inappropriate to continue with March Matchness so we postponed our giving challenge. Within a few days the overwhelming financial need of our students came to light. We created a cohesive campaign quickly to address these needs.

3/13 email ‘fundraising pause’ to alumni, parents and donors.
4/2 segmented solicitation email to alumni, faculty/staff, leadership annual giving donors and corporate partners.
5/2 Save the date email to alumni, current donors and faculty/staff reminding everyone about GivingTuesdayNow scheduled for 5/5.
5/5 GivingTuesdayNow email to alumni, current donors and faculty/staff

Lastly, it was very important we adapted to the language and tone being set forth by the institution. Doing so would increase our success and limit the amount of backlash faced during this difficult time.

2. Teamwork played a huge role in the success of the campaign. Coordination and collaboration was required from our Advancement team and Student Affairs team. Advancement consisted of corporate and foundation relations who served as team lead, annual giving, major gifts, our alumni association and communications and marketing. Each of these units worked closely with colleagues in Student Affairs headed by the Student CARES team. All of this was of course accomplished remotely making it all that more difficult and rewarding.
3. This two-month campaign was accomplished entirely with existing resources.
4. Impact. We made an impression on our alumni, faculty and staff by showcasing need in ways we were never able to before and they heard the message loud and clear. Most importantly, we were able to provide life-changing awards to students in need which will not only impact the rest of their UAlbany education but in many cases the rest of their lives.


925 donations for a total of more than $284,000. 778 of those donations came online for over $129,000. Two major gifts were secured as a result of the momentum generated online. One from a major alumni donor and the other from SUNY, which oversees all 64 state campuses, who both matched contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000.

698 awards to students for nearly $363,000.