On March 14, a total of 819 donors, 797 of them Rensselaer alumni, made history by participating in the single largest giving day in celebration of RPi Day.

RPi Day LogoRPi Day, organized by the Office of Annual Giving with contributions from the entire Division of Institute Advancement, encouraged alumni to “Complete the Circle” by making gifts to the Rensselaer Annual Fund, which provides much needed unrestricted financial support for Rensselaer students. The day was planned around the traditional Pi Day, commemorating the mathematical constant and celebrated around the world on March 14, or 3/14, since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits of pi in the decimal form.

“RPi Day was a resounding success for the entire Rensselaer community. Nearly 800 alumni donated to the Institute, helping to raise more than $228,000 in support of Rensselaer students. This is amazing, but not surprising, as Rensselaer alumni have long been known for stepping up to meet any challenge. We are especially grateful to Gail and Jeffrey Kodosky, Class of 1970, and Mona and Edward Zander, Class of 1968, for their exemplary generosity,” said Dawn A.M. Stever, director of annual giving.

RPi Day

Students are the main beneficiaries of the Annual Fund, which helps to provide scholarships, competitive financial aid packages, and a world-class undergraduate education.

The initial goal of RPi Day was to meet the Jeff Kodosky ’70 and Ed Zander ’68 RPi Day Challenge. If 314 alumni gave on Friday, March 14, Trustees Kodosky ’70 and Zander ’68 would each make a gift of $25,000, or $50,000 total, to the Annual Fund.

By 12 p.m., Rensselaer alumni had met this challenge, leading to the unlocking of a second challenge: an anonymous donor agreed to make a gift of $25,000 to the Annual Fund if an additional 159 alumni, the next three digits of pi, made gifts. This goal, too, was met in just a few hours.

Inspired by the overwhelming success of the day and the ongoing digits of pi, Trustees Kodosky ’70 and Zander ’68 again stepped forward to offer a third, and final, challenge which Rensselaer alumni were once again eager to meet. When 265 more alumni made donations to the Annual Fund, they each gave an additional $10,000, for a total of $20,000.

“RPi Day was a resounding success. Nearly 800 alumni donated to the Institute, helping to raise more than $228,000. This is amazing, but not surprising, as alumni have long been known for stepping up to meet any challenge.”—Dawn A.M. Stever

Promotion of RPi Day began the week of March 3, with a postcard mailed to all Rensselaer alumni and alumnae announcing the celebration. The mailing was followed up during the week of March 10 with the launch of the website, including the announcement of the initial challenge, and the increased presence of RPi Day on social media channels with use of the hashtag, #RPi314.

Throughout the day, several emails and social media posts were employed to encourage participation amongst the Rensselaer community. More than 190 personalized thank you videos were produced with the help of Red & White students and shared via social media. In response to the personal thank you video he received via Twitter, Mike Sinack ’99 tweeted, “Giving back to where I got so much from!” The most recent graduates eagerly participated in the day as well, as evidenced by the Class of 2013 tweet, “Proud to see 9 of the youngest donors for today’s #RPI314 giving campaign! Helping @RPIAlumni #CompleteTheCircle.” In addition, each donor received a handwritten thank you note.

Based on an initial analysis, RPi Day brought in at least 99 first-time donors to the Institute, and more than 350 who had not yet given this year.

The Hudson-Mohawk Alumni Chapter also hosted an RPi Day event from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Clubhouse Pub in the Rensselaer Union, attended by more than 20 people.

Alumni participation impacts the U.S. News & World Report rankings, and the results from RPi Day are a strong indication that Rensselaer alumni have pride in their alma mater.