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The Volunteer community came together in generosity November 10 and made 9,450 gifts during Big Orange Give, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s annual day of giving, when donors, alumni and friends support deserving students, courageous ideas, or an area of campus most meaningful them.

The total far exceeded the campaign’s goal of 8,000 gifts, including 359 gifts from graduating seniors to the Senior Impact Campaign. There were 1,000 funds to support in total, and for the first time this year gifts could be made directly from mobile phones using Google and Apple Pay.

“Big Orange Give demonstrates the commitment our Volunteer community has for the many meaningful and impactful causes that UT fosters,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “We are deeply grateful to the alumni and friends of the university who step up so generously and support our university, a place that holds deep meaning for so many.”

The donors’ contributions, which ranged from $10 up, were given to areas based on individual preferences and priorities. This annual collective act of generosity has, this year and in the past, created a substantial impact on colleges, units, divisions, and programs across campus.

Volunteers gave to campus initiatives such as the Big Orange Pantry and the Jones Center for Service and Leadership, which exist to do good in the community. Alumni also supported the colleges they attended, helping to ensure a great experience for future Vols.

One student organization that garnered substantial support during Big Orange Give is the Water Polo Club, which received 140 gifts. In doing so, it won the RecSports challenge and unlocked a challenge gift from alumni Ron Frieson (’81) and Don Frieson (’90).

Colin Wikle, an electrical engineering major and president of the club, said members posted to social media and contacted family and friends to spread the word about Big Orange Give.

“I want to thank everybody who donated to the Water Polo Club,” Wikle said. “It means the world to us to have supporters out there, and the funds will help build the club and spread the sport of water polo. This is the second year in a row we’ve managed to do this, and it’s great because water polo isn’t so well known and this validation means a lot to us.”

In addition to the Water Polo Club winning the RecSports challenge, the St. Louis Alumni Chapter won the alumni chapter and council challenge with 79 gifts. Three organizations won first place in the fraternity and sorority challenge based on their membership size brackets: Kappa Alpha Psi with 67 gifts, Phi Kappa Tau with 42 gifts, and Sigma Nu with 233 gifts. Funds donated will be used to support scholarships, student organizations, and other priorities across campus.

Chip Bryant, vice chancellor for advancement, said Big Orange Give is a day that brings out the best in Volunteers each year.

“It takes all Vols to make a day like Big Orange Give happen, and we are grateful to the entire Volunteer community for their contributions that make UT the incredible place it is,” Bryant said. “Their passion for the university is a constant reminder of how spirited Volunteers are in their pursuit of advancing UT.”

Big Orange Give has grown substantially since 2013, its first year, when there was an initial group of 1,630 donors. This year countless alumni and donors lent their support to making Big Orange Give a success, including Josh Dobbs (’17), current Alumni Board of Directors President J. Phenise Poole (’95), and Theotis Robinson Jr.


Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,

Gerhard Schneibel (865-974-9299,