Thomas Saujet, A96, spent his childhood in France. Hannah Targoff Saujet, J98, grew up in Westchester, New York. They met during Hannah’s last year at Tufts, while Thomas was visiting mutual friends in Boston.
“Our connection with Tufts is deep. We come from two different lives, and we never would have met if not for Tufts,” Hannah said. “All these different people come together here and realize they have things in common that they never would have known about.”
Thomas and Hannah are honoring that connection by stepping up again as challenge donors for #TuftsGivingTuesday. GivingTuesday is a global day of philanthropy established in 2012, and held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which this year falls on December 1. Established to counter the consumerism of the holiday shopping season, the fundraising event has gained momentum at Tufts since the university began participating seven years ago.
Now in its eighth year, #TuftsGivingTuesday has become an important fundraising tradition that engages students, parents, alumni, friends, faculty, and staff around the world and across generations. Organizers hope to continue the success of last year’s GivingTuesday effort: a record-breaking 9,867 gifts totaling some $2.7 million, with incentives energized by more than 60 challenge gifts by Tufts alumni, parents, and friends.
“We are always working on the front lines with farmers and food producers in a dynamic, changing industry, and these times of crisis have just exacerbated that,” said New Entry Director Jennifer Hashley.
Thomas said he believes the initiative is more important now than ever. “In difficult times, we have to come together and support each other even more,” he said. “It has definitely been a challenging year and, with the pandemic, the school is even more in need of financial aid."
Student support is a big focus for GivingTuesday, as well as a top priority for Thomas and Hannah. “It’s important to us to give as many students as possible from all backgrounds the opportunity to go to this amazing school,” Thomas said. “The more stories we hear of what financial aid does for students, the more gratifying it is to support it, and the more we feel grateful for being able to do it.”
Leading up to GivingTuesday, Tufts works with hundreds of volunteers who rally support through conversations, emails, and social media. Those interested in participating can sign up here. Volunteers include current students such as Alex Lein, A21, a leader in the Tufts Community Union. It’s a tough time for students, Lein said, but it has never been more important for them to step up in whatever ways they can.
"For me, GivingTuesday serves as a yearly reminder of what causes we need to be attuned to, who we need to be listening to, learning from, and advocating for..."
“COVID-19 has only highlighted the countless inequities that exist both within the Tufts community and beyond; students who are privileged ought to think about direct actions they can take here at Tufts to address that,” Lein said. “For me, GivingTuesday serves as a yearly reminder of what causes we need to be attuned to, who we need to be listening to, learning from, and advocating for, and this year, all of that is definitely as, if not more, important than ever.”
A wide range of university causes benefit from the support generated on GivingTuesday, including the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, an initiative of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, which supports new farmers and local food systems both close to home and across the country. Every year, New Entry urges its partners to support Giving Tuesday, but this is the first year it will receive a matching challenge.
“We are always working on the front lines with farmers and food producers in a dynamic, changing industry, and these times of crisis have just exacerbated that,” said New Entry Director Jennifer Hashley. “We’re really grateful to be receiving unrestricted flexible dollars to allow us to pivot to meet farmers’ needs.”
Hashley said she’s looking forward to watching support for New Entry unfold in real time. “Every donation is a gift and an investment in the work we want to do moving forward,” she said. “Seeing people step up and engage with our work and give us that seed money for the year to come is super exciting.”
Anyone interested can likewise follow the progress of the campaign at givingdays.tufts.edu via the live gift count, donor wall, and individual school pages on the website, as well as email blasts and social media posts.
It’s a uniquely rewarding day to give to Tufts, Hannah said. “We feel so fortunate and we want to give back, and GivingTuesday is really just an incredible opportunity to maximize our giving and make a more substantial difference,” she said.
GivingTuesday is a community effort, Hannah said, and Thomas agreed. “What we like about GivingTuesday is that people chip in what they can, and it doesn’t have to be big. What we’re hoping is that more and more people will participate, and it will snowball into a much bigger number,” Thomas said. “If everyone were to give, it would make a huge difference for the school.”
Join the Herd!
Check out the social media toolkit, learn more about the 60+ giving challenges, and explore all the causes you can support at givingdays.tufts.edu.
Post on social media, #TuftsGivingTuesday #GivingTuesday, and tag fellow Jumbos!
Monica Jimenez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.