OU competes with U of D in annual Giving Challenge

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Tommy the Titan wears the bear after losing to OU in the annual giving challenge last year.

Liz Kovac, Engagement Editor

The University of Detroit Mercy and Oakland University are competing in their annual giving challenge from Jan. 27-31.

The challenge has been held once a year for the past four years and is a chance for both universities to raise a large amount of money in a small amount of time.

“We compete with the University of Detroit Mercy to raise money from the most number of donors in a single week,” said Adrian Benedict, assistant director of the Department of Annual Giving at OU.

Last year, OU won the giving challenge, raising nearly $50,000, which brought both schools to a tie of 2-2.

Anybody can participate by donating a minimum of $5, however, OU students can participate by donating only $1. The losing school’s mascot has to wear the winning school’s jersey at OU’s men’s basketball game against U of D on Jan. 31 at Calihan Hall.

This year, the majority of funds raised will go toward the Health Emergency Fund, an initiative created to provide financial support for student health needs.

“It’s a great fund to give to because it eases the financial burden on our students and allows them to focus on getting well,” said Christine Moss, phonathon manager in the Department of Annual Giving.

Though facilitators of the giving challenge are promoting the Health Emergency fund this year to support both mental and physical health on campus, donors have the option to choose from a diverse list of OU funds they’d like to support.

The Oakland University Credit Union is one of several groups on campus that has already contributed to the challenge.

“We’re excited to announce that this year, the Oakland University Credit Union has pledged to donate $50,000 during the giving challenge,” Benedict said.

With the support of the OU Credit Union, Benedict’s goal is to raise over $100,000 within the one-week period of the challenge.

However, Benedict said the fundraisers responsible for numbers like these are none other than OU students, some of whom are employed as advancement ambassadors at the on-campus Telefund. These students call alumni and friends of OU across the nation and invite them to support the university through monetary gifts.

“We have about 50 students on our team,” Moss said, “and they know first-hand the direct impact making a gift to OU has on our students and campus community.”

This year will not only be the tie-breaker for OU and U of D, but also the final year of the challenge itself. OU may be saying goodbye to the giving challenge, but, according to Benedict, the Department of Annual Giving has other plans in store.

“We’ve evolved and are ready to move to something bigger,” she said.

Though Benedict couldn’t disclose what lies on the horizon, she portrayed excitement for the opportunities that are on their way.

The Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Recreation Center and all on-campus Chartwells locations are accepting donations through the duration of the challenge. Those who donate at one of these locations will have the opportunity to write their name on a card, which will be hung at the location.

“We want to see Tommy Titan in the black and gold on his own turf,” Moss said.

For more information, visit oakland.edu/givingchallenge.