First-ever One-day Fundraising Challenge Surpasses Donor Goal by 225 Percent

April 10, 2014

More than 650 Donated To “The Great 24-hour Giving Challenge”

One Gift Received Every 2 Minutes

Saratoga Springs – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and SUNY Empire State College President Merodie Hancock today announced that more than 650 alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends from 25 states contributed to "The Great 24-hour Giving Challenge," SUNY Empire State College’s first-ever, one-day fundraising challenge.

On average, the college received one gift every two minutes. In all, more than $140,000 was raised in one day, with donors and contributions still being tallied.

“Thank you to all of the donors who contributed to the overwhelming success of SUNY Empire State College’s 24-hour giving campaign,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “This creative call for support far exceeded our expectations and it sets a high bar for future philanthropic efforts across SUNY. Congratulations to President Hancock and the many Empire State College staff who made this campaign such a success.”

"What a tremendous day for SUNY Empire State College," said President Hancock. "I am so honored to be part of a college community that shows its support for our continued efforts to open doors for our current and future students. From Eagle River, Alaska, to Mastic, Long Island, our amazing donors reinforce our mission to be SUNY's statewide, open-access college. A special thank you goes out to our major donors, who inspired so many others to give." 

The goal and purpose of the challenge, which took place on April 9, was to bring the college community together for one day, increase participation in giving to the college, and reconnect with many of the college’s 70,000 alumni in order to expand the college’s mission of education and degree completion for nontraditional students.

The original goal for the challenge was to have 200 people participate by giving any amount within 24 hours, in order to qualify for a $50,000 matching gift. That goal was surpassed before 11 a.m.

The challenge was driven primarily by the college’s social media presence, in coordination and cooperation with Generation SUNY, the social media component of the SUNY System.

The college used the number of participants, instead of an overall dollar amount, to trigger substantial matching gifts, which proved successful.

The first challenge gift was provided by Empire State College Foundation Board of Directors members and faculty mentors Robert Carey and David Fullard. Carey and Fullard also are professors in the areas of social science and historical studies.

As a result of the early success, alumnus Terry Fokas ’93, who also is a college foundation board member, stepped forward with a new $10,000 challenge to double the original goal of 200 and attract a total of 400 donors. This challenge was surpassed by 4 p.m.

Inspired by the events of the day, faculty mentor Kesiah Scully, a professor in the area of business management and economics, contributed $25,000.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40. Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available at

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications