The following is a guest blog from the Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic Association.
|Alumnae welcoming attendees in 2019.|
In 2019, the Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic celebrated their 10th anniversary of the annual Fall Fundraiser, our major scholarship fundraiser. For the first time in 10 years, the format was a dinner with a raffle, cork pull and both silent and live auctions. It was always a delightful evening at a local country club — good food, warm, wonderful friendships and, most important of all a goal of raising funds to support scholarships for young undergraduate or graduate women affiliated with an NPC organization. In recent years, Rochester’s Alumnae Panhellenic has been able to award approximately $20,000 each year, usually to six scholarship winners.
Thanks to the help of the full Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic board (represented by 18 different NPC organizations), wonderful and varied donations have been available each year for this event. Along with the donations, most of the participating NPC organizations created and donated baskets for a raffle or for the silent auction. To augment that, many businesses and individuals provided sponsorship funds with 100% of that going directly to the scholarship fund.
Following the same format for 10 years, the planning committee (known as the SOS committee for Support Our Scholars) decided it was time to make some adjustments by switching from a dinner to a luncheon, with the intent of lowering the cost to attend and, hopefully, broadening the audience. Plans were well underway when March hit with the COVID-19 pandemic and the SOS committee needed to go back to the drawing board.
Luckily, this dedicated and hardworking committee rolled up their sleeves and brainstormed how to make things work. There was only one definite at that point - more than ever, we needed to award scholarships for 2020. We felt the financial need would be even greater with many summer jobs disappearing and most campus lives changing drastically.
After a subcommittee did some initial investigation as to how we could manage to continue to engage with donors and sponsors and move towards what now needed to be a virtual event. The subcommittee presented a tentative plan for implementing a fundraising and auction platform, GiveSmart.
GiveSmart provides mobile bidding, online auction and fundraising software that could move our event to a virtual experience. This was not an inexpensive commitment, and we agreed that it was the best way to move forward for a positive outcome. Our lemons have turned to lemonade and we are truly thinking outside of the box and planning for the 2020 event in new and creative ways. Instead of a one-day event, attendees will now be able to preview donation items at their leisure for one week. Bidding will then open and will remain open for two weeks. Another plus - attendees do not need to be local to participate. The software allows for text and email notices to be sent when a person is outbid. No need to go find that auction item on one of the display tables to check on bids. Payments will be done online and financial reports will be readily available. Pickup will be done on a pickup date with safe practices in place (shipping as needed).
Though the final outcome is still to be determined, we feel very positive regarding this reformatting and are already talking about how this might allow us to do things very differently, even if we are able to go back to an in-person event for 2021.
Scholarship recipient, Alexandra Kaplan (right) with a chapter sister.
To learn more about the positive impacts of Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic’s scholarship program, you can watch this video and hear from recent scholarship winner, Alexandra Kaplan, a member of Gamma Phi Beta from the University of Rochester.