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Cal Parents textathon inspires big giving. And friendship

group of people holding blue and gold pompoms

Ruth Ann Seward (fourth from right) joined other Cal Parent Ambassadors to earn the Cal Parents Fund Big Give’s “Raising the Bar” contest for the highest increase in gift count.

March 14, 2019 was the most successful Big Give to date. UC Berkeley’s annual day of giving exceeded its goal of 10,000 gifts in 24 hours, and Cal parents played a major role.

With their own funds, the Cal Parents Board created a Big Match of $17,750, a challenge designed to inspire at least 120 gifts to the Cal Parents Fund. In the end, the fund received 374 gifts — five times the previous year’s total.

The number of gifts and the $99,407 raised won the Cal Parents Fund the “Raising the Bar” contest — for the highest percentage increase in gift count for Big Give — and a prize of $10,000.

How did they do it? During Big Give on March 14, eight Cal Parents Ambassadors came to campus and texted nearly 3,000 fellow Cal parents to rally philanthropic support of Berkeley.

Working together on laptops equipped with the GetThru platform, ambassadors sent personalized texts and responded to questions.

“It was so much fun to see the responses popping up on our screens,” says Ruth Ann Seward, who co-chairs the Cal Parents Board with her husband, Lee, and whose son, William, just finished his second year at Berkeley. “Some people gave a lot, some gave a little, but everyone was really enthusiastic about the effort.”

Of the Cal parents texted, 22 percent donated to Berkeley during Big Give, surpassing all expectations.

As the volunteers waited for replies to come in, they were able to socialize and bond.

“What made the day so wonderful was how organized and accessible Cal made it for us,” Seward said. “They trained us, gave us tech support, fed us lunch, and even provided parking.”

As champions and supporters of Berkeley’s mission, Cal Parents Ambassadors can be especially effective in making Big Give a greater success among fellow parents.

The nearly $110,000 they helped raise this year will have measurable impact across the campus. But the benefits go both ways: “Every time I come to Cal I meet more new faces and friendships develop,” says Seward. “We all want to do this again next year.”