For many MIT alumni and students, March 14 has become synonymous with one thing: Pi. This year, however, the unofficial geek holiday is providing the setting for another rallying moment for the Institute’s community in Cambridge and around the globe— the first MIT 24-Hour Challenge.
This online give-a-thon, set to run from midnight through 11:59 p.m. EDT tomorrow, will invite individuals all over the globe to make gifts of any amount in support of student aid, student life, academic support, or other MIT needs. For the challenge, which will be promoted largely via the MIT Alumni Association Facebook and Twitter channels, the call for participation is key: if 1,500 individuals donate that day, the Institute will receive a $150,000 matching gift.
“Many other universities and non-profits have launched similar giving day challenges in recent years,” says Alumni Association Executive Vice President and CEO Judith Cole. “It seemed like a perfect fit for MIT. It offers us one day when our alumni, students, staff, faculty, and friends can unite together in support of the tie that binds them: their belief in this institution’s power to make a better world.”
Challenge organizers are confident that the resulting philanthropic support will translate into tangible impact at MIT. Several groups and programs on campus have planned micro-challenges throughout the day to obtain specific funding for their initiatives.
Steven Larky ’84, a member of the MIT Annual Fund Board who has donated toward the MIT Crew Bonus Challenge, has double the reason to be excited to participate in the 24-hour Challenge.
“Donor participation has been a key focus for the MIT Annual Fund board this year, so when I was offered the opportunity to both support MIT Crew and focus on donors, I eagerly said ‘absolutely!’” says Larky. “And all donations to MIT crew during the micro-challenge also go toward achieving the overall challenge that will unlock the additional $150,000 for MIT. So it’s win-win all around.”
Challenge organizers are also looking to individuals to serve as ambassadors to herald the call for support among their social networks of classmates and fellow alumni. Many of these volunteers, like Matt Zedler ’07, are anticipating a strong outpouring that day.
“For me, that the challenge is happening on Pi Day is especially exciting, as I remember celebrating this unofficial holiday with my friends in the dorms,” says Zedler, the Class of 2007 Reunion Gift co-chair. He is sponsoring two micro-challenges: the MIT10 micro-challenge and the current student classes-focused Donor Dash. “It will be great to see how our community responds on this particularly meaningful day—especially MIT10 alumni—in giving back. For me, it’s really about honoring these friendships and traditions that we all share as part of this network of MIT alumni.”
To learn more about the MIT 24-hour Challenge, including signing up to be an ambassador or get updates on the day’s success, visit the MIT 24-Hour Challenge page. You can also track challenge news on the MIT Alumni Association Facebook channel, which will kick off its all-day coverage with a Facebook Live video of the men’s crew team training on the Charles.