More than 1,900 Wartburg College students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters helped the college set a new record for one-day participation during the school’s fifth annual day of giving, UKnight Day, on March 28.
During the 24-hour period, 1,907 members of the Wartburg community “UKnighted” with financial support for the college, surpassing the goal of 1,852 (a nod to the year the college was founded) and increasing last year’s donor number by more than 300. More than 335 current and future students participated in the day, which raised more than $257,000 for the college. The final total was buoyed by a challenge grant offered by the college’s Board of Regents, which promised to match all gifts made, up to $125,000, if 1,852 donations were received.
“I love watching the Wartburg community come together on UKnight Day and work toward one goal. It’s like a virtual homecoming,” said Brittany Shindelar, a leader with Students UKnight, a student-run organization that connects current students with alumni. “I’ve spent the last two years working with students in our Student Headquarters, and it’s great to see others give back to the place that has already given us so much. This year, I had the opportunity to work with others in the alumni office in the ‘official’ headquarters, and that was a great experience, too, to see what kind of impact the college had on the alumni and parents who were stepping up to help us reach this goal.”
Throughout the 24-hour period, gifts were received from all 50 states and several countries. Once the final state, Delaware, was crossed off, a couple from the Class of 2004 donated an additional $1,000 in recognition of the feat. The Class of 2021 sat atop the graduation year leaderboard with 107 total donors by the end of the day.
In addition to the participation and state challenges, donors also could work toward the completion of Sir Victor’s Quest, which required an $18.52 (or more) donation and the recruitment of five other UKnight Day donors. Of the more than 40 who completed that quest, the college crowned two “Ultimate Knights,” recognizing the individual who recruited the most donors using their unique URL and the one who brought in the most money through their link. Junior Elizabeth Stange recruited 25 donors, while Terry Letsche, a 1989 Wartburg graduate and associate professor in computer science at the college, brought in more than $900 through his link.
“I am always blown away by the generosity and community engagement we see from our Knights around the world. We loving hearing the impact that Wartburg had and continues to have on their lives,” said Rob Ruchotzke, director of annual giving. “It’s a day filled with laughs and excitement that makes me proud to be a Knight.”
Donors were provided a digital badge, customized with their donor number, to share on social media. Those who had participated in the previous four UKnight Days also received a “Five for Five” badge. Those with a connection to the college were encouraged to participate in the celebration by sharing their Wartburg memories on social media using the hashtag #UKnightDay.
Gifts made on UKnight Day support the college’s Annual Fund.