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Published October 18, 2023
By Kaitlyn Polley
“What’s the Foundation? What do you even do there? You work for who?”
That’s usually the response I get whenever I tell any of my fellow peers that I work for the UW Foundation.
Hi, my name’s Kaitlyn Polley, and I am a senior at UW studying political science with honors and philosophy minors. I also work at the University of Wyoming Foundation as a marketing and writing intern in the Marketing and Communications Department, and I am here to explain to you what the UW Foundation is, why Giving Day is so important and why students should care about it.
The UW Foundation is a nonprofit organization appointed by the UW Board of Trustees to raise, receive, and manage private gifts. The UW Foundation was established by the board in 1962 and has since worked to maximize support for UW through the power of philanthropy.
The UW Foundation works alongside UW as branch of the university. As a separate but correlated part of UW, the foundation sets its own values, which are excellence, gratitude, growth, inclusivity, integrity, respect, and transparency. The purpose of the foundation is to “foster an environment of trust and service that empowers others to make a difference.” There are 10 departments within the UW Foundation, all of which look to uphold the values and purpose. These departments are Annual Giving, Corporate Engagement and Development, Development, Financial Services, Foundation Development, Gift Planning, Investment Services, Marketing and Communications, Prospect Management, and Stewardship.
The impact of the UW Foundation can be seen all over campus. Many scholarships for students are managed by the UW Foundation, and various buildings, classrooms, and endowed chairs and professorships were established through the UW Foundation.
Giving Day is annual event hosted by the UW Foundation. It is a 24-hour event that gives university supporters the opportunity to make gifts of any size to nearly any college, department, initiative, or student organization on campus. This year, Giving Day will take place on October 25 and 26, from noon to noon, and has the theme “Make My Day.”
Giving Day has been a tradition at the foundation for almost ten years and has consistently broken records for how much money is donated in one day. Last year, over $4 million—yes, you read that right—$4 million was raised for various campus initiatives in just 24 hours. Over 6,000 supporters on the university donated during the event, far exceeding the foundation’s goal of 3,800 donors.
The funds raised during Giving Day is nondiscretionary, meaning the funds can be used in anyway the leaders of initiatives see fit. This can lead to more scholarships, an increase in research funding, or more funding for necessary resources.
Well, that’s a great question! In the past few years, Giving Day has opened up campaigns to student organizations and student clubs on campus. In 2022, there were over 40 RSOs registered to create Giving Day campaigns. Through these campaigns, these 40+ RSOs were able to raise over $300,000.
Some of the RSOs that found great success in their campaigns were the Men’s Rugby Team and the Cowboy Country Swing Club. Men’s Rugby was able to raise $45,388 from 261 donors. The Cowboy Country Swing Club was able to raise $3,106 from 234 donors. You can read more about these clubs here.
This extra funding allows clubs, like the Men’s Rugby Team and the Cowboy Country Swing Club, to do more for their members and the UW community. Some clubs use their extra funding to create scholarships, while others use funds to cover travel expenses or to host larger events.
Apart from Giving Day, the UW Foundation also benefits students in a variety of other ways. As a part of the stated purpose, the UW Foundation looks to raise private support that goes to students, faculty, staff, and university programs. On average, the foundation raises $50 million a year which supports students directly through scholarships and fellowships and indirectly through faculty or programs.
The foundation also offers multiple opportunities for professional development for students. Currently, the UW Foundation employs 8 student interns. These interns work in Marketing and Communications, Annual Giving, Corporate Engagement, Investment Services, and Data Integrity.
Speaking from my own experience, these internships allow students to develop professional skills that often would be gained after graduation. As I am a Marketing and Writing Intern, this has included drafting press releases, proposals, and stewardship reports, as well as writing stories for the UW Alumni Association and UWyo Magazine.
The two years I’ve spent working at the foundation have made me more ready for the world after graduation. I’ve been able to build relationships with my coworkers, gain insight into a variety of careers, and learn how to work in a professional environment. It has been one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had during college, and I could not advocate more for why students should care about the UW Foundation.
"Make My Day" and join us October 25 and 26, from noon to noon to give to the University of Wyoming!