How to Get Your Campus to "Choose Charity"

Eric Philips
Nov 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Credit to Josh Jackson and Drew Owens for most of this idea and text.

As a YAL Choose Charity event, your chapter can involve your student body in donation efforts by giving them actual choices for charity.  Apart from lending a helping hand with habitat for humanity, or helping to run a local food bank, a fundraiser is a fun and easy way to interface with the student body. 

Presenting the opportunity to let your campus "Choose" their favorite "Charity" can also be a great way to talk about how private charities can be more effective and accountable when they have to compete for your dollar or volunteer time.  And although it's interesting to compare private charity donations to voting -- by which no vote is cast in vain, this event isn't about politics. This is foremost about charities in need of money -- especially in light of Hurricane Sandy.

Board Stencil

Auburn’s chapter reused our free speech walls after giving them a fresh coat of paint to list local charities and have passing students take note of which charities are garnering the most donations throughout the day and which could use additional funding. This can be done in a variety of ways, namely some form of a graph or tally, or you can simply leave the money in a donation jar. Label the jars or buckets with the organization’s logo to clearly designate the charities.

From the first Auburn debt display to protesting the TSA, visualization of any issue or cause has proven crucial to student involvement and interest on our campus--as I'm sure it has for other chapters.

By giving students clearly defined choices, it may help to elicit the motive to voluntarily give according to a student's interests rather than only having one charity like the Red Cross or the American Cancer Society.  Also, we feel that choosing local charities helps to spread community awareness.  [Chapters should] have sign-up sheets on their table with dates and locations for students to get directly involved at the local level. 

Board and Banner

What we plan to do (feel free to suggest better ideas!): 

  1. Find and choose several charities (5 charities seems to be the most effective when fundraising for each organization). Preferably, these charities should be local but with recent catastrophes -- I think helping New Jersey or New York would be a kind gesture.
  2. Once you have chosen your charities, do some research on them. Then contact the charity for good marketing ideas i.e. how to catch the eyes of students passing by. Ex:

    Example Marketing
  3. When contacting a representative from these charity organizations, make sure that you iron out any logistical information in regards to transferring donations, etc.  Make sure that they are on board with the idea and invite them out to table with your group.  If possible, see if they are accepting volunteers and have a sign-up sheet ready for any students interested in doing more than just donating money.
  4. Create posters to market your charities.

    Creating a Poster
  5. Roll out that free speech/big board again.  List the charities and (in large font) a short advertisement of the charities’ goals or mission your chapter will be raising money for. Note: if the money is hidden or locked away, people won’t see how much you’ve collected. So leave space on your board for a bar chart or tally marks -- however you wish to update the total donation count as the day goes on.  Leaving a donation jar below your advertisement or on your table should suffice. Just make sure you always have someone by the jars, duh.  
  6. Have your chapter's banner clearly displayed and be ready with a follow up event (either related to direct charity involvement or a speaker of sorts would be best).  Depending on how cold it's getting, bring out some hot cocoa or coffee to draw people in.  
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 as often as possible. 
  8. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES AND VIDEO! 
  9. INVITE THE MEDIA AND SCHOOL NEWSPAPER!  
  10. Finish the event, collect the money, and send the money.  Count, count, and recount the totals for each charity. The best thing to do might be to deposit the funds in your chapter's bank account and write checks so that there is a record of the funds being sent in accordance with the tally on the board from students' donations.  Transparency is key; this isn't the Fed. 
  11. Take solace in the fact that you just helped your community, educated fellow students, and made new connections for your chapter.

Happy Holidays from Auburn Univeristy!  War Eagle!