Three years of funding 'missing middle' students: UP's annual Giving Day shoots for R100m

Posted on July 04, 2024

The University of Pretoria (UP) is gearing up for its third annual UP Giving Day, which is set to take place on Monday 22 July 2024.

Giving Day forms part of UP’s three-year Giving Matters campaign, which was launched in July 2022 and is designed to raise funds for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the 'missing middle' category – those students who do not qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding, yet cannot afford university fees. The campaign aims to raise R100 million over three years, and has raised about R82.1 million in new funds since its launch two years ago, providing bursaries and scholarships to more than 407 students and supporting various projects at UP.

Last year, Giving Day exceeded its annual target. In anticipation of this year's event, the Department of Institutional Advancement (DIA) interviewed Josiah Mavundla, Senior Manager for Advancement and Databases, to delve into the initiative's next goal.

DIA: What is UP Giving Day, and why is it held in July?  

Josiah Mavundla: It is a three-year campaign to create philanthropic awareness, attract new donors and encourage existing donors to increase their funding to the University. It happens in July, dedicated to commemorating Nelson Mandela Month's spirit of giving back to the less fortunate. The date is set for the first day students return to campus in the second term.

This initiative aims to instil a culture of giving among the University's communities, both internal and external – staff, students and alumni, including friends of the University and corporates.

How did the idea of UP Giving Day come about?

It is a fundraising initiatives that many universities in North America and Europe use. It fosters a sense of unity, emphasising our ability to create positive change through collaboration.

The slogan for the campaign is: 'Your giving matters, make a difference, make an impact!' Why is this such a crucial message?

It signifies the importance of giving and how it impacts and makes a difference in our students' lives, no matter how small the gift is.

What were the targets for 2023 and what did you achieve? 

In 2023, the target was to get 600 donors and raise over R30 million in new money towards the target. At the end of the year, we had about 834 donors and raised R35.9 million.

What are your targets for 2024, and what would it mean to meet or exceed these targets?

In 2024, we aim to stretch the 900 participating donors to 1 000. We have already raised over R15 million in new money from 38 organisation donors.

Reaching our goals will signify that the support for the University is increasing and our donor pool is growing steadily.

This year marks the final year of the campaign to raise R100 million in new money over three years. Achieving this target would be a significant milestone in our fundraising efforts. Furthermore, it will confirm that fundraising is a team sport; therefore, collaboration is critical in achieving success.

What can people donate and what methods are in place to make these donations?

For Giving Day, we accept cash donations, and any amount is acceptable, even R20. You can also donate through the Giving Day platform – – or the online credit card facility by going to and clicking on Giving to UP > Ways to Give > Online Credit Card Donation. If you are a member of staff at UP, you can use the payroll deduction facility on the UP staff portal.

Who are the beneficiaries and how exactly do they benefit from these donations? 

The 2024 Giving Day is focusing on student support. Therefore, beneficiaries will be UP students who are financially needy. We work closely with Financial Aid to identify potential beneficiaries, and they are mostly students in the 'missing middle'. They are too rich to qualify for NSFAS and too poor to qualify for a bank loan to fund their studies at UP.

Who do you target with this call to action, and do they have the option to donate anonymously?

We target UP staff, students, alumni, high net worth individuals, and corporates. Yes, they can donate anonymously.

There's a 'Give Early' option – how does it work?

Those who cannot make a gift during Giving Day can donate early by visiting our Giving Day platform,, and clicking on the Donate button.

 This is a very positive initiative. How can members of the public help you spread the word?

Supporters can sign up to be Giving Day Ambassadors or invite key influencers to become Ambassadors. To do this, simply visit our Giving Day platform,, and click on Ambassadors.

What does it mean to become a Giving Day Ambassador? 

An Ambassador's role is to spread the word about Giving Day on social media and within their personal networks.

Alumni, community members, donors, staff, friends and families can sign up as Ambassadors. We recommend that staff who run social media or send emails also sign up, so they can track results through their custom URL. It is an easy way to track the success of digital communications channels.

Ambassadors play an important role in the success of Giving Day because studies have shown that donors are twice as likely to give to people they know! This is another type of peer-to-peer fundraising because it allows us to reach out to individuals beyond our current networks.

Is there anything you wish to add or highlight? 

Be the difference. Be UP. Give today. #UPGivingMatters

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