Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FUNdraising for Spread the Net

Mohawk College’s Public Relations program is great because it allows you to really get a feel for the industry. In our Organizational Application course, we are all required to take on a fundraising initiative. My group chose to fundraise for Spread the Net. Spread the Net holds a competition between all universities and colleges to raise funds towards bed nets to prevent the spread of malaria. We definitely wanted a charity that didn’t use most of its donations towards administrative costs. What makes Spread the Net so great is that none of the funds earned go towards administrative costs. The school that raises the most funds gets a visit from Rick Mercer, an opportunity to be on his show Rick Mercer Report and receives media coverage. Considering public relations professionals are always looking for an opportunity to get media coverage, this was an excellent opportunity to pursue.

Some of you may be wondering what fundraising has to do with public relations. A lot of public relations practitioners work in the not-for-profit sector. One of the major goals for those working in that sector is to pursue funding sources. There are also a lot of skills that you can develop through fundraising. For instance, we wanted people to come to our event so we actively contacted local businesses for donations to use as raffle prizes. We had to write donation letters and effectively communicate with them to persuade them to donate to our cause. You also need to advertise your event so we had to strategize the most effective ways to connect with and reach the students and staff at Mohawk College. We were able to apply the material we learned from our Print Design & Application course to our promotional material. In that particular class, we learned about the different elements that work together to effectively communicate your message to an audience in a visually appealing way. Also, fundraising is a great way to boost your organization’s public image.
Since the event management course is in the second semester, we decided to keep it simple by hosting a bake sale. A lot more planning went into it than I had anticipated but our event ran smoothly. We had a couple hundred people come out and buy some baked goods. We hoped to raise about $250 at the event. However, we surpassed our own expectations by raising over $350. We also almost sold out of everything… within two hours! If you take the time to plan things properly, you’ll have a successful event. I’m really excited to get started on our event management course next semester so that I can learn how to plan events that are on a larger scale.
The practical experience that you get outside of the classroom enhances the Mohawk College experience. This assignment was a great opportunity to take what we have learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world. The skills that I’ve gained and improved from this assignment will prove to be useful in my career as a public relations practitioner.

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