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Pledge Inspires Others on Giving Tuesday
A matching fund from Joyce and Aubrey Chernick boosts philanthropic donations
As a technology entrepreneur, Aubrey Chernick was quick to spot the potential of a philanthropic event driven by social media. He also saw an opportunity to boost bottom-line results.
With his wife, Joyce, Chernick pledged to match gifts made to The Stanford Fund for Undergraduate Education on Giving Tuesday 2014, which took place on December 2. Giving Tuesday is a growing movement that has created a global day for giving back to a variety of causes—and encouraging others to do so online—on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. By providing a one-to-one match for gifts of $5,000 or less, the Chernicks helped inspire more than 1,500 supporters to give almost $300,000 to the university.
As part of the event, Stanford faculty, staff, students, and friends shared "unselfies"—photos of donors, gifts, or expressions of gratitude—on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, along with the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #Stanford. Collectively, those messages created a community-wide conversation about philanthropy, including giving to Stanford.
The innovative approach to increasing awareness and donations appealed to Chernick, a pioneer in software development for early IBM mainframe systems.
"I find it fascinating how so many young people are thinking of being entrepreneurs, even in high school," Chernick says. "And Stanford's at the epicenter of that. It's that spark and that hope I want to ignite."
Founded in 2012, Giving Tuesday was created to balance two days devoted to holiday shopping (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) with a single day dedicated to giving and volunteering. Professor Rob Reich, co-director of Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, was an early advisor to the movement. He and other campus organizers aimed to create a dialogue among students and alumni about ways to give back to the university and to other causes.
In addition to online activity, more than 400 students attended a festival in White Plaza featuring food, music, and information from service-oriented student groups.
With help from the Chernicks' generous matching pledge, the day yielded donations 20 times higher than a typical December day. The donations to The Stanford Fund support the most pressing needs in undergraduate financial aid, academic innovations, and student groups.
"By all measures—participation by alumni and students, website traffic, social media mentions, and dollars raised—Giving Tuesday was a huge success," says Felicity Meu, director of Next Generation Giving at Stanford. "The matching gift doubled even the smallest donation and was a great motivator for younger alumni who often wish they could give more."
More than half of Giving Tuesday donors hailed from class years in the 1990s and 2000s, underscoring its appeal to younger "millennial" supporters.
"It's a great way to get others involved—not just alumni, but students, too," Chernick says. "I saw the matching pledge as a way to turbocharge the whole effort."
Aubrey Chernick (center) with Los Angeles–area high school students who were awarded internships by Candle Corporation, the company he founded.