The Big Give Breaks Previous Giving Day Record for Funds to Support UM Students

UM students visit the University Center during The Big Give to vote for one of five student support areas to receive the UM Students’ Choice Award. The UM Food Pantry received the most votes, earning $2,000 gifted by UM Foundation Trustees and staff.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s fourth annual day of giving was the most successful fundraising event of its kind in campus history. Inspiring nearly 900 gifts totaling more than $510,000, it easily surpassed all previous UM giving days, including last year’s record-breaking Big Give total of more than $380,000.

Alumni, donors, parents and friends from 43 states and six countries participated in the 24-hour online giving event, held March 8-9 to support UM students and initiatives.

Top areas of support included the College of Humanities and Sciences, with over 100 gifts totaling more than $100,000, and Grizzly Athletics, with over 200 gifts totaling more than $90,000. The President’s Excellence Fund – which provides UM leadership with unrestricted resources to address emerging opportunities and needs across campus – received 66 gifts totaling nearly $15,000.

Donors designated their gifts to support nearly 50 programs and initiatives, including the Excellence in Native American Education Fund, Student Success Scholarships, intercollegiate athletic programs like Lady Griz Basketball, community resources like spectrUM Discovery Area and many more. Donors also gave to support every UM school and college.

Also new this year, UM students visiting the University Center during The Big Give experienced the power of philanthropy in action. Over 200 students voted and selected the UM Food Pantry to win the UM Students’ Choice Award. The Food Pantry received the more than $2,000 gifted for the Students’ Choice Award by UM Foundation Trustees and employees, who united to jumpstart The Big Give and celebrate the mission of the UM Foundation.

This year’s theme – “One Day. One UM.” – encouraged University supporters to join together and make a life-changing impact for UM students. Members of the UM giving community rallied to celebrate and spread the word about The Big Give. Their collective effort encouraged gifts of every size from alumni and friends around the world.

"Spirited participation throughout our community inspired gifts to impact students and programs across every corner of campus,” said Cindy Williams, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. “Our donors’ passion helped exceed the record-breaking success of previous giving days and engaged students like never before.”

Big Give donors participated in a record number of 25 matching and challenge gift opportunities during the event. Matching gift opportunities were created by donors who committed to match gifts to a specific area of the University up to a specified amount.

Challenge gift opportunities were “unlocked” for the Davidson Honors College, Department of History, College of Health, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Flathead Lake Biological Station after a specified number of donations were received.

Supporters from all over the country and UM campus signed up to be Big Give Ambassadors and help spread awareness for specific giving areas, challenges and matching gift opportunities on their social media channels with the hashtag #UMBigGive. Participants watched the day of giving unfold on the Big Give event website,, where giving totals and social media feeds highlighted progress throughout the day.

“To UM supporters, thank you so much for your generosity,” Williams said. “You certainly united for One Day. One UM. Your contributions during The Big Give make a profound impact for students.”

To view the overall or individual priority results and watch a Big Give thank you video, visit Donors who missed giving during the event but would still like to make a difference for students can do so by giving at

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.


Contact: Elizabeth Willy, director of communications, UM Foundation, 970-222-1787,