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Final numbers are in, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, exceeded its Big Orange Give goal and set a new record, raising $2.55 million in just 24 hours. That amount represents 114 percent of the initial goal of $2.25 million.

The funds raised will go to support students and programs across campus, including a $1 million challenge gift to help Tennessee students access an education at the state’s flagship land-grant university. The Knoxville-based Regal Foundation and Richard and Mary Antonucci designated the challenge gift to Tennessee Pledge Scholarships, amplifying the gifts from other donors and helping to reach the overall goal. The challenge gift was triggered when the campaign hit $1.25 million.

Contributors from 48 states and from Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and US military bases overseas donated amounts both large and small to help reach the overall goal.

UT received contributions from 6,471 individuals, families, and organizations. Chancellor Donde Plowman is energized and appreciative of the outpouring of support from across Tennessee and around the world.

“This year’s Big Orange Give was our most ambitious yet. Once again, the Volunteer community set an example of stepping forward to act on behalf of others,” she said. “This kind of support for our university and our students is what makes Tennessee such a special place and what will help propel us into the future. There is no better time to be a Tennessee Volunteer.”

Big Orange Give has grown steadily since its establishment in 2013, setting new records each year and benefiting the university through specific gifts and matches. Donors can designate gifts to areas of campus including individual colleges, student-led organizations, student scholarships, and UT’s cultural and learning centers.

Lauren Herbstritt, director of advancement for annual giving, said the majority of contributions were under $100.

“When the collective impact of each individual’s support meets the generosity of our match donors, UT really grows in leaps and bounds,” Herbstritt said. “Individual areas of our campus saw support as high as 221 percent of their initial fundraising goals. It really was an outpouring of generosity and demonstrated how dedicated Volunteers are to the success of the university. These funds will positively influence UT as we enter the next 225 years of existence.”

The day was an inspiring one for Jack Duren (’20), a member of the Student Alumni Associates who helped by thanking donors and generating enthusiasm on social media. He said the overwhelming support expressed for UT gives him added confidence as he prepares for his career and life after college.

“It just means a lot to know the entire Volunteer community has our backs, and it’s really a great lesson in what a group of committed people can accomplish,” Duren said. “I feel excited about the future thanks to UT, Volunteers everywhere, and the continued success of Big Orange Give.”

Matching gifts offered the day of Big Orange Give included the Volunteer Traditions $10,000 Lunch Rush Challenge by Mason Jones (’04 and ’07), the $10,000 Fraternity and Sorority Challenge by Ron (’81) and Don (’90) Frieson, a match from Jim and Natalie Haslam (’52) of the first $225 of each gift, a $25,000 match from Clay Jones (’71), a $50,000 match from the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors, and a $5,000 match from Josh Dobbs (’17) to gifts through social media.

Full results are available on the Big Orange Give web page.


Mallorie Mendence (865-974-5801,