UAMS’ First-Ever Day of Giving Raises $353,000 in 24 Hours

By Benjamin Waldrum

Over a 24-hour period beginning early Oct. 5 and ending in the wee hours of Oct. 6, supporters from around Arkansas, the region and the world raised more than $353,000 for the state’s only academic health sciences university and its foundation.

“What a difference a day makes,” said UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D. “We at UAMS are humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support from so many for an institution that does so much. From this Day of Giving, UAMS emerges even stronger in its commitment to improve health and health care in Arkansas.”

Gardner kicked off the day’s events by making its first official donation at 6 a.m., Oct. 5.

The campaign, the largest single-day philanthropic effort in UAMS’ 138-year history, blew past its stated goal of $250,000 before 5 p.m. Oct. 5, said Amanda May, director of annual giving.

So many gifts were made in a single day that several were still being processed, May said. Once those were accounted for, the 24-hour total rose from $295,000 to $353,000.

“We had a number of challenges and matching gifts that were met quickly because of all the individual donations that kept flowing in,” May said. “It is truly amazing to have the support of so many who recognize the difference UAMS makes in their lives. They made today a success.”

All money raised will support the various programs, funds, colleges or institutes chosen by the donor and are spread across areas of patient care, education and research. Some came from anonymous donors.

Most of the gifts were made via phone or online at the campaign website,, May said, but several were made in person at UAMS campuses across the state. Volunteers sporting shiny white-and-red buttons at tables festooned with red balloons accepted donations from employees passing by on a morning walk or during their lunch hour.

Gifts came in from more than 1,000 donors from 16 states, and from as far away as London, May said. At least 186 separate areas of UAMS were earmarked by donors to receive funds.

Social media was abuzz with photos and videos from patients, families, employees and supporters using the hashtag #UAMSDayofGiving. They shared stories about the difference UAMS made for them, and why supporting the institution helps those in need tomorrow.

Erin Wood, who delivered her donation by car, was grateful for the staff of the UAMS neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit and the Wall of Hope, which showcases photos of NICU graduates.

“Before our daughter was born at 23 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces, and we lost her twin brother, I was on bed rest at UAMS,” Wood said. “The Wall of Hope became my psychological lifeline, and remained so throughout our 128-day NICU stay,” she said. “Five years later, our daughter is thriving, I still pass the Wall of Hope with tremendous gratitude for the light it offered during a dark time.”

“UAMS saved my life,” said Shalonda Michelle, who survived stage 4 throat cancer. “UAMS has been there to help service the people in our community and all over the world. Let’s help them continue to do what they do best, and let’s save lives.”

More than 1 million patients each year are seen by UAMS faculty at its main campus, regional campuses, the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. UAMS graduates nearly 1,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals each year, the majority of whom stay in Arkansas to practice. It’s a difference felt across the state.

UAMS relies in large part on its own revenue to support itself, but often that isn’t enough.

State appropriations are only about 6 percent of UAMS’ $1.5 billion annual budget. Patient care revenue makes up the lion’s share, or 75 percent, and includes significant support from the Medicaid expansion of Arkansas Works. As state appropriations remain flat from year to year, and needs continue to grow, UAMS seeks additional philanthropic support.

The Day of Giving helps alleviate some of the substantial financial hurdles that UAMS faces.

“The UAMS Day of Giving shows the kind of transformative change made possible by a shared belief in the mission of the institution,” said Lance Burchett, UAMS vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement. “We are immensely grateful for the generosity and commitment of individuals, corporations and organizations that made this day possible.”