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Chief Give Orange Ambassador and First Cowboy Darren Shrum with members of the OSU Student Foundation during Give Orange 2023.

A Record-Setting Give Orange

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

On April 4-5, Give Orange 2023 included a record 2,383 donors and raised $1,200,941 thanks to a significant increase in campaign ambassadors and the generosity of the Oklahoma State University Foundation Board of Governors.

osu hockey team
The OSU hockey team’s PhilanthroPete project reached nearly $8,000 during Give Orange. The funds will be used to purchase equipment and cover ice rink rental fees for practices and games.

Give Orange is OSU’s annual day of giving that aims to encourage the Cowboy family to financially support students, faculty and programs.

Ambassadors are highly engaged members of the OSU community who amplify the campaign’s message, sharing with their friends and family how their support transforms the university. This year, the number of ambassadors more than doubled to 380. They accumulated 520 gifts, reaching $49,918. Ambassadors who inspired the most donors through their unique ambassador link earned additional funds for their orange passion.

“In a campaign like Give Orange, we look at the number of donors to measure success,” said Adrian Matthys, assistant vice president of annual giving at the OSU Foundation. “This year, we set a new donor record, which is the direct result of high engagement from a robust ambassador program and our chief ambassador, First Cowboy Darren Shrum, who amplified the Give Orange message at every opportunity.

“When we reach out to members of the OSU family and ask them to spread the word about Give Orange, we are building a community that is proud to support and celebrate the great things happening at OSU.”

The OSU Foundation Board of Governors — alumni and friends who provide significant financial support and volunteer services to the university and the foundation — collectively contributed $60,750 to a general fund that was used for challenge dollars and matching gifts. In total, the general fund brought in $328,797 from 1,106 donors, which resulted in 1,435 gifts to 212 different funds at OSU.

“The Board of Governors’ generosity instills confidence and inspires other donors to give by example,” said Becky Steen, a governor and Give Orange ambassador. “This dedicated group plays such an important role in helping build relationships between the OSU Foundation and current and prospective donors.” 

Steen was one of the top three ambassadors to inspire the most donations during Give Orange. She said she engaged with her network throughout the campaign and leaned into the competitive spirit of ambassadorship.

“Very few needed more than one nudge, so I continued to send updates and always acknowledged people who gave with shoutouts and thanks on group emails and text,” Steen said. “Creating a friendly competition always inspires people. I’m very grateful to everyone in my network who so generously supported Give Orange this year.”

During the PhilanthroPete Leaderboard Challenge, the OSU hockey team received the highest number of donors, with a total of 92, to win an additional $1,000.

Jacob Thompson, a senior from Plano, Texas, is the founder, past president and current OSU hockey team captain. Similar to Steen’s strategy, Thompson said the team started early promotion with their players, staff and past donors weeks before Give Orange launched. Two weeks before their PhilanthroPete project closed, they ramped up communication, and they made a huge push during Give Orange.

“We structured the strategy like how we pitch to businesses that we want to sponsor us,” Thompson said. “We gave them a list of our accomplishments, and we had photographs and videos from the season on our webpage.”

The team’s website detailed a donation’s impact.

“Donate $100 and we could get one hockey stick for a player,” Thompson said. “We wanted to be as descriptive as possible. Our strategy was to send the link out to players and staff so they could disperse it. We have 9,000-plus followers on social media, so we posted the link on social media a lot. We also have donors who know a lot of people and they spread it around.”

It worked. OSU hockey’s PhilantroPete project raised approximately $8,000 during Give Orange.

The OSU Foundation’s annual giving team’s goals for 2024 are to continue to build the ambassador program and grow the general fund for challenge dollars and matching gifts.

“When we have a large general fund, we are able to increase the amount awarded to our challenge winners to give back to their area of choice,” said Rebecca Nievar, the OSU Foundation’s director of annual giving. “The College Leaderboard Challenge is a great example. We were able to award more than $10,000 among the top five winners, with first place, the College of Education and Human Sciences, winning $5,000 to support needs-based scholarships. Expanding the general fund affords us more incredible opportunities to support programs and students at OSU.”

Photos by: Bryanna Freer and OSU Hockey

Story by: Samantha Hardy | STATE Magazine

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