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Van Miller, assistant director of university marketing and communication at Illinois State University, tracks donor contact data during Giving Tuesday at the ISU Alumni Center, Normal.

NORMAL — Although this year's Giving Tuesday fundraising totals fell short of 2016, Illinois State University officials saw several reasons to celebrate.

“We are excited to report another year of exceeding a half-million dollars,” said Lora Wey, executive director of annual giving at ISU.

Giving Tuesday also brought donations to other schools in the area.

Tuesday helped push the number of new donors to ISU since it began its Redbirds Rising fundraising campaign in July 2013 past the 15,000 mark, she said. That comprehensive campaign, the second in the school's history, seeks to raise $150 million.

Money from Giving Tuesday also went to ISU's two laboratory schools — University High School and Metcalf Elementary School — as well as its public radio station, WGLT.

She singled out the School of Communication and the Division of Student Affairs for their efforts to involve alumni, students, advisory boards and others in Giving Tuesday.

Heartland Community College raised $4,200 on Giving Tuesday, according to Chris Downing, executive director of development at Heartland.

He said the money would go toward student scholarships to be awarded this spring.

“For us, it was not about the number of dollars but getting more to participate,” he said. “We see this as an opportunity for engagement.”

An anonymous donor issued a challenge to donate $500 if 25 people donated to Heartland by noon and another $500 if 25 more people donated by 5 p.m. Both challenges were met, with a total of 51 donations by 5 p.m., said Downing.

“We know how important Giving Tuesday is for a lot of charities out there,” said Downing, who was pleased by the support others received, too. “It's a reflection of how compassionate our community can be.”

Lincoln College raised $47,000 from 88 donors for its unrestricted Lincoln Fund as part of Giving Tuesday, according to Deb Ackerman, vice president for institutional advancement. Those donations will be matched by Lincoln College alumnus and board member Jeffrey Swallow, who is matching up to $100,000 in donations to the Lincoln Fund through the end of the year.

Ackerman said, "We were thrilled" with what was received on Giving Tuesday even though the college did not make a major push. The college is planning its own giving day early next year as part of an $8 million campaign announced in August with the theme, "Embracing Our Past, Empowering Our Future."

Illinois Wesleyan University concentrates its major fundraising push on All in for Wesleyan each April rather than Giving Tuesday. However, spokesman John Twork said, "IWU saw a significant increase in online donations from alumni, parents, and friends of the University on Giving Tuesday."

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter @Pg_Sobota

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Education Reporter

Education Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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