by Nicole Chacin
While meaningful memories of philanthropy may consist of bake sales, hours volunteering at a shelter, and booster-thons growing up, college philanthropy offers the opportunity to expand your impact and reach.
College philanthropy is one of the stronger avenues students can demonstrate their understanding and application of business. By employing the right amount of professionalism, networking, and business skills to their service project, they can prove their competence in a setting that provides practical experience to reference later on in their career. Successfully plan and organize your own business philanthropy with these 5 steps.
1) Choose a Timely Cause
It is important to choose a cause that is appropriate for that time of the year in which you wish to raise awareness or fundraise. More specifically, it is important to understand that most causes, whether it is Breast Cancer remembered in October or Autism Awareness in April for instance, for the most part are already appointed a certain month of the year.
Already established events lends itself well to attracting a strong base of supporters accustomed to acknowledging a certain cause during a certain part of the year.
2) Plan Based on Budget and Resources
Philanthropy is an act of service which should limit using too many funds or resources. At the beginning of the year, it is a good decision to sit down with the individual in charge of your organization’s financing in order to allocate and set a limit so you do not find yourself going over budget or not having enough initial capital to start a project.
If you have a goal in mind of how much you want to spend and there are not enough reserves to cover such expenses, many student organizations start to reach out in various ways. For instance, some petition their campus student association to increase their organization’s budget. Others ask outside organizations, friends, family, and peers for donations in time and money to reach their goal.
Some of the more proactive professional groups create a form letter asking for businesses to donate to their organization by detailing the impact they have and the work their members do which may align with a company’s mission. There is a strong chance that the companies willing to donate are already recruit at your university during career fairs.
3) Spread the Word to the Right Audience
Assigning individuals solely to spread the word about the philanthropy is a great way of dividing work and ensuring effective, targeted communication.
Using weekly newsletters and personalized invitations from the organization’s members to their friends via email is a great cost-effective great way to inform and remind. If the event will take place in a particular school building, you can ask faculty and professors to post a note on their bulletin.
A particularly effective strategy I have used is to ask your professor if five minutes before or after class you could share with classmates a little about the philanthropy. Just think about the audience you will reach if you are able to do this in large lecture halls with students.
Some groups can ask their college radio station to give a shout-out for their philanthropy. Handing out fliers, pamphlets, and reading material of that nature are important, yet in our digital age the less disposal something is, I have found the more permanent it tends to be in our minds and focus.
When I was organizing the Breast Cancer Philanthropy at GW, one of the partners I had the privilege of coordinating with was our Girl’s Varsity Volleyball Team. Their network combined with GW Women in Business reached a broad audience and we even used the scoreboard in the gymnasium at the game to call attention to our organization. Partnering with other organizations can be a way to split costs and gain more attention to a cause.
4) Incentivize Participation
Even those with the best intentions sometimes need an extra push or reason to donate their time, money, or attention to a particular cause. From the worker bees bringing the project to completion to the participants you attract, there needs to a clear understanding of how time spent with your organization for the cause you choose has a meaning and benefit. If you can provide a clear picture by quantifying the impact of your goal once reached, it provides more incentive and gratification.
When I was organizing the Breast Cancer Awareness event, we also partnered with the GW Cancer Institute who generously asked one of their directors to be our keynote speaker to engage participants.
Make sure that if you invite any speaker that you treat them as an honored guest and provide them a proper introduction. A little reading material on who they are and their accomplishments relevant to the event for your guests to peruse is also helpful.
5) Acknowledge Help Received
Appreciation is critical in philanthropic work. Your team will value being acknowledged for their efforts and will be more inclined to repeat such behavior again.
Those who donate, whether they are corporate sponsors or family, friends, or peers will feel confident when you publicize their contributions that their donation is being put to good work. Such publicity only adds credibility. Its is a good idea to prepare a short thank you before and after an event, thank you letters to sponsors, and even a small gift bag with your organization’s memorabilia to give to key note speakers or contributors.
Make sure you take pictures at these events because they can be great marketing tools for your organization and can be sent to your school’s student paper or business school newsletter to document the event – another way to reward your worker bees for their contribution.
Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration. This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.