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University prepares for Notre Dame Day fundraiser

| Friday, April 21, 2017

The University will host Olympians, Super Bowl champions and two members of the “Hamilton” Chicago Company — in addition to other notable guests — this weekend as part of the fourth annual Notre Dame Day, which will take place Sunday and Monday.

The event — a 29-hour fundraiser for almost every aspect of student life at Notre Dame, including residence halls, student groups and financial aid — gives community members who donate to the University the opportunity to cast votes to determine how money raised through Notre Dame Day will be distributed.

A Notre Dame Day team member speaks during the 29-hour live broadcast during the 2016 Notre Dame Day. Last year's event broke a fundraising record with 21,478 gifts contributed throughout the day.Michael Yu | The Observer

A Notre Dame Day team member speaks during the 29-hour live broadcast during the 2016 Notre Dame Day. Last year’s event broke a fundraising record with 21,478 gifts contributed throughout the day.

For the first minimum $10 gift to the University community members make through Notre Dame Day, they receive five votes to cast for whichever registered area of the University they choose. With each subsequent minimum $10 gift, community members will receive one vote. Pablo Martinez, program director of Notre Dame Day, and member of the class of 2011, said this strategy — which was implemented in the event’s second year — allows every person who donates to make a significant impact on the University.

“Notre Dame Day is different in that it allows anyone to have the same impact,” he said. “So even if you make a $1,000 gift on Notre Dame Day, you only get five votes — unless you decide to divvy up that $1,000 gift into multiple gifts. So the $10 gifts prove just as valuable in terms of the votes you get, and how you get to say who gets the Challenge Fund and who comes out on top at the end of the leaderboard. It’s equitable in that way.”

The recipient of the Challenge Fund is determined by the percentage of votes a certain organization receives, tracked by the Notre Dame Day leaderboard. Community members receive updates about the leaderboard standings throughout a live broadcast taped in the LaFortune Student Center. Martinez said this broadcast ensures Notre Dame Day includes every member of the community in some way.

“Notre Dame Day kind of divides out into two things,” he said. “It’s a celebration for all of our alumni, parents and friends. They celebrate by watching the broadcast and giving to and voting for what they love the most. But for students, it’s an opportunity for them to take advantage of, one, a little bit of extra funding, but also showcase the amazing work that they’re doing.”

Students have responded so well to this opportunity, Martinez said, that the Notre Dame Day team is adding a Facebook Live stream to the event in order to accommodate more interviews with students.

“We can usually fit about … 200 spotlights of students and interviews and stories, but the demand was so high that we decided to shift over to Facebook Live and have that as another option,” he said. “So what you see on the broadcast for 29 hours will be its own content, and then we’re going to have unique content that will accommodate all sorts of student groups to come in and talk about what they’re doing — or what they need funding for — during our Facebook Live segments. And that will all air on the Proud to be ND Facebook page.”

Martinez is happy to see students respond to Notre Dame Day in an increasingly engaging manner, and said the Notre Dame Day team has come up with additional ways of including the student body this year, such as a Notre Dame Day Snapchat filter.

“We’ve also gotten better at involving students,” he said. “I think the first year we did this we had like 500 groups, the next year we had 600, last year we had 800 [and] this year we had — when I first grabbed the list, there were like 940.”

The limited availability for interview spots during the broadcast is largely due to the enthusiastic response from University alumni, something associate director of student philanthropy and 2015 graduate Ellen Roof said is valuable when reaching out to guests for the broadcast.

“It’s a pretty good spot to be in,” she said. “ … [Often] you think of a backup option being less good, but here we’re never in that scenario because everyone we invite has a really compelling story and such a passion for Notre Dame that the way they say it and what they bring to the broadcast is really awesome. So it is great to know that we’re going to have phenomenal guests no matter what.”

This involvement is possible, Martinez said, thanks to the hard work that goes into producing the broadcast each year.

“The fact that [NBC News correspondent and member of the class of 1979] Anne Thompson was invited the very first year and she came in from New York to do this, and then was [so] blown away that she was like, ‘sign me up every year’ … just shows how people want to be involved,” he said. “ … But then even the local community that we bring in — and they do all the broadcasts for us, and they do a lot of the anchoring and interviews — they’re just blown away by the way that we set everything up and the way everything works.”

Notre Dame Day also provides students with valuable experience in fundraising for various causes with the help of the University, Roof said.

“I think it’s pretty great,” she said. “ … We’re pretty much saying this is your time for your campaign, these are some of the best practices that we can kind of highlight for you and help you as you’re thinking through what you want to tell the alumni and parents and friends, and what you want this money for, and everything like that.”

As Notre Dame Day’s tagline emphasizes, Martinez said, the ultimate goal of the event is to ensure that “every gift counts, every vote matters and every student benefits.”

“When I’m able to meet with students, I always tell them this is a chance for you guys to maximize your resources and tell people what you do at the University,” he said. “ … I think we do a really good job of that with Notre Dame Day.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a sophomore majoring in film, television and theater from New York City and currently serving as News Editor. She is a proud resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

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