Event Leadership Team announces Gross Fundraising Total
The National Campus Leadership Team recently spoke with the University of Toledo to learn more about their phenomenal success! UT hosted their Relay For Life event on November 16, 2018 with 1,626 participants who all came together to raise an astounding $57,621 - 15.2% over their net goal.
Here’s what we learned:
NCLT: How did you prepare for a successful year and event? Did you host any pre-event fundraisers, what kind of support did you provide to participants, did you rely on support from university administration? Basically what kind of prep work did you do?
UT: This year we asked all committee members to set goals for themselves. Then they wrote out tasks and deadlines needed to reach those goals and would earn points for all of the goals they met! This helped give them a set plan for the year, especially since most of our committee was new this year. Additionally, we held a summer retreat and held weekly meetings once the school year started which facilitated another helpful thing - communication between our Director Board and committee members. We also did quite a few pre-event fundraisers, including a 5K that we hosted with UT Rocketthon, sold hats and stickers designed by one of our committee members, and held percentage nights at Chipotle, Panera Bread, Panda Express, and Blaze Pizza. Something new this year was that we did not rely on the University for finances. In fact this was the first year that our event was not funded by a University budget. While in the past organizations that host events on campus would receive funding from the Student Activities Board to help support event expenses, this year it was decided that student organizations that host events for other organizations - like we do for the American Cancer Society - would not receive funding. Because of this we did not receive the money we normally did to cover the cost of the event venue, sound and stage equipment, and other miscellaneous expenses. Our committee went into this year knowing we wouldn’t have that additional money, so we pushed extra hard to fundraise more than usual to cover those costs. We did work with the University for logistics with support from staff in the Office of Student Involvement and the Student Rec Center.
NCLT: In all of your planning was there a favorite or most used resource?
UT:Like we mentioned earlier, communication was a large part of our success. Google Drive and GroupMe were super helpful! Every committee member had access to a Relay For Life Google Drive which made it easy to see what everyone was doing. We also had a GroupMe that included all committee members which made it easy to share last minute updates.
NCLT:At the actual event what kind of onsite fundraising or entertainment was available? How did you draw people in?
UT: We had quite a few on-site fundraisers put on by participating students - lots of food and drinks like coffee, kettle corn, baked treats, etc.. Our Relay Committee worked to provide entertainment including a bounce house, a ping pong tournament against the local priest, live bands, Minute To Win It games on the main stage, a video game tournament, Olympic Games tournament, and finally a casino room.
NCLT:How did you engage in mission during the event?
UT:As with all Relays we try to take care of our survivors and caregivers during the event, but something unique this year was related to cancer education. We played a Kahoot game that was made up of Relay trivia and cancer statistics. Over 300 participants played.
NCLT:Why do you think you were able to successfully exceed your goal? What was different this year or what did you keep the same?
UT:The biggest thing that was different this year that led to surpassing our goal was the mindset of the committee. Committee members were absolutely dedicated to not only reaching our goal but going above and beyond. This year we did a few team building exercises at the beginning of the year to make sure everyone knew each other’s names and titles. Expectations were set at the first meeting in the spring of last year and consistently talked about leading up to the event. Additionally we created a “Battle of the Branches” point system to reward committee members for things like wearing purple during meetings, accomplishing the goals they set at the beginning of the year, and having perfect attendance and meetings and events. It helped that they became friends throughout the process and saw each other outside of our meetings. The committee was close-knit and became friends with each other, which made it easier to work together as a team. It seemed that no matter what the committee position, it truly was a team effort - everyone wanted to succeed personally and event-wide. The positivity and dedication of the committee was arguably the main catalyst to this year’s success.
NCLT:What advice do you have for other campus or community events that are looking to crush their goals?
UT:The biggest advice we have is that your event is only going to go as far as the dedication and passion your leadership exhibits. You can plan, organize, and execute all you want - but if there is no heart behind it the event will not reach its potential. Hard work gets you to the event, but passion gets you through the event. In addition, we would advise committees to think outside the box when it comes to fundraising. If a fundraiser didn’t work last year don’t be afraid to cut it - it didn’t work, don’t waste your time. But don’t be afraid to start new things, because the little fundraisers add up in the end! Ensure the event is as fun as it can be - you hope participants will come in with a generous wallet but for the most part people like getting something in return for their money. A big part of fundraising is ensuring you can get the largest group of people there for the longest amount of time - the longer they are there the more money the event will make. Don’t give up when things get hard, and just make sure that every time you meet your committee you ask them to remember why they are here - for cancer patients, survivors, and their family members.
As told by Katy Merkel and Allison Boesel to Megha Mathur.