College foundations, tuition discounts, and fundraising efforts have been much more prevalent in higher education in the last few years. Early in my career they were important, but as budgets become tighter and the cost of higher education has increased, it seems that these efforts are increasing in all sectors of higher education.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with off-campus non-profit organizations to fundraise in a way that I thought was unique, and I wanted to share with the student affairs community. The event was called Over The Edge (www.otesavannah.org) and was set up like a traditional fundraising event; participants individually raised funds via a website and those who raised a certain amount of money were able to rappel off an office building. The primary organization involved in the event was Coastal Georgia Council, Boy Scouts of America. My involvement started due to my role as a board member for the Park Place Youth Emergency Shelter (www.parkplaceyes.org). For Park Place, board members for the org, personal contacts, and some of my colleagues from the campus all went ‘over the edge’ — and together we raised almost $20,000! Overall, the event grossed a total of $72,000 for a bunch of local charities.
Immediately after seeing the success of this fun event, I began thinking about local college and university fundraising efforts or scholarship drives. Admittedly, the other half of my administrator mind started thinking about liability and cost-benefit analysis…. but with the right team of collaborators, I think a college, university, department, or organization could make this a huge local event.
Some interesting facts:
– You get to choose what amount makes an “Edger” eligible to go off the building
– Public relations and media coverage were both amazing in our market
– With two ropes setups, we had the capacity of sending off the building 92 people
– Over The Edge issues licenses so that organizations have the sole opportunity to do this event within their city
– Team building exercises for team members, participants really enjoyed it, the Over The Edge Staff was great, and the training was easy and it was safe
Imagine the possibilities — if three or four institutions in your area collaborate to arrange this event and market it to external stakeholders, alumni, faculty, staff, and students, you could easily raise $100,000 or more. If your local risk assessment or legal department isn’t interested, one of the charitable organizations in your community may want to participate. It is certainly a way to involve a young generation of donors in something other than the traditional walk/run/golf event. The national contact is listed at http://www.overtheedgeusa.com/.
So the question is: Would you jump off a building to fundraise for your charity of choice?
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Podcast With Sue Caulfield on “Suedles”, Creativity, & Learning Styles