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ND Day breaks records and increases student participation

| Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Notre Dame Day hit a record high in the number of gifts given and the number of campus organizations that received donations, raising over $2.3 million from 6:42 p.m. Sunday evening to 12:11 a.m. on Monday.

Director of Notre Dame Day Matt Gelchion said the number of donations given increased by over 3,200 from last year and that 809 groups received funding, compared to last year’s 663.

“I think part of it was that now that this is the sixth year. There’s more familiarity among fundraising groups about how they can leverage this day,” Gelchion said.

A 29-hour live broadcast of interviews, events and performances ran during the entirety of the fundraising period. Jim Small, associate vice president in the development office, said people from 119 countries tuned into the broadcast.

“We had 38 broadcasting professionals help us put on the show — six were students and 32 were pros in the business,” Small said. “They bring the excitement, and we had some great interviews. 29 hours of storytelling — no one else in the world does anything like this. It’s a storytelling platform unlike anything else in the world.”

A new goal for ND Day this year was to create excitement within the student population, Gelchion said.

“For me there’s two measures of success,” Gelchion said. “One measure was, ‘Do we help more groups raise more funds and help them reach their goals?’ But the other goal was, ‘Does this become a day that students look forward to?’”

To help achieve this goal, an ND Day student leadership team was formed. Co-chair and senior Jade Martinez said the team — composed of about 30 students — was meant to reflect the wide variety of student interests on campus.

Martinez said she was given the job with just one instruction: make students excited about ND Day. To do this, the team looked at different events that would be fun opportunities for students to win money for their clubs and groups, Martinez said.

In March, the team launched Fighting Irish Flicks, a new competition that asked groups on campus to make a minute-long video showcasing their group. The women’s water polo team received $500 for their first-place video.

Two other new events geared toward students were the Golden Giveaway and Things in Things. The Golden Giveaway was a coffee giveaway on Monday morning, in which eight students won $50 by receiving a specially marked coffee.

In Things in Things, students guessed how many items were in five containers, one of which was a stadium bag containing Hershey Kisses, Gelchion said. The student that guessed the closest number in each container received $100 for themselves and $100 for the organization of their choice.

The student leadership team also came up with the idea of The Quest — a scavenger hunt in which clues leading to a hidden token were released every day from Wednesday to Sunday. The token — hidden in a book titled “In Quest of Light” in the Hesburgh Library — was found by a team of students from Notre Dame Students Empowering through Engineering Development (ND SEED).

“We knew it wouldn’t be a piece of cake, but we were so thrilled at how invested some groups became in it that we will make sure that the challenge next year is absolutely worthy of its challengers,” Gelchion said.

The student leadership team also created an Instagram page, “notredameday,” to increase publicity for ND Day and worked to clarify misconceptions about the event within the student population.

“I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about how the $1.2 million pot works, and where exactly all of the money goes,” Martinez said. “The $1.2 million is raised — it’s not taken out of tuition or something else. It’s specifically families donating this money in order to help clubs and dorms be able to do the things that make Notre Dame great.”

Martinez said she believed students were also uncertain about where exactly the donated money goes.

“I don’t think people realize that it’s directly to the club or dorm — it doesn’t go anywhere else,” Martinez said. “The votes just help you get more money, but that initial $10 or $20 or however much you donated — that’s going directly to the group you wanted.”

Gelchion said he hopes student excitement and participation in events will continue to increase next year. He said love for Notre Dame from both people indirectly connected with the university and from current students is what makes ND Day successful.

“You have members of the community currently who feel this place is really special — whether it’s that they feel their dorm is so special or their club — and people respond to seeing how much they care about it,” Gelchion said. “Because it’s important to them, it becomes important to others.”

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