New contest promotes philanthropy
By Diana Ming, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, October 10, 2011
New members of 22 Greek houses across campus — including all eight Panhellenic sororities, 13 fraternities and one co-educational fraternity — will participate in a new fundraising competition known as Philanthropic All American Rush throughout Fall term, PAAR founder and chairman Matthew Lu ’13 said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
The competition, which begins today, seeks to promote philanthropy within the College’s Greek community and serves as an opportunity for new members to assume leadership of an “exciting and fulfilling experience,” Lu said.
New members will engage in fundraising activities that they will organize on behalf of their Greek organizations through Nov. 29, PAAR director of communications Julia Harvey ’13 said. At the competition’s end, the organizations and individuals that raise the most money or demonstrate the most creativity will win prizes including cash awards and roundtrip airplane tickets from Boston to Miami during spring break, she said.
PAAR will then donate the funds to two local organizations — WISE, a Lebanon-based organization that provides services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and the Vermont Community Foundation for Hurricane Irene relief, Harvey said.
PAAR has raised over $14,000 in seed money to date, and will offer $6,000 worth of prizes in its inaugural term, Lu said. The prizes that PAAR will offer are designed to elicit the “greatest amount of participation possible,” he said.
Lu began planning PAAR this past summer after he was inspired by the annual Prouty bike and run fundraiser for cancer research sponsored by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medial Center, he said.
“After watching the Prouty this summer, I was surprised by how competitive Greek houses got about philanthropy,” Lu said. “I realized that the Greek system could internally run a similar competition that could get people excited about helping out great causes as well.”
Before forming PAAR, Lu discussed his plans with College administrators, including Assistant Dean for Development and Administration Tracy Walsh and Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Director Wes Schaub, he said.
“The College has been extremely receptive to PAAR and in helping me work on the finances of the program,” Lu said.
Lu began seeking donors and support for the program in July.
“I was cold-calling alumni, friends and relatives for weeks,” he said.
Prizes will be awarded to winners in several categories including most funds raised by a Greek organization, most funds raised by an individual, most funds raised per capita and most creative fundraising idea, Harvey said.
Greek organizations can decide how to spend their prize money, although they will be prohibited from spending it on alcohol-related purchases, Lu said.
“I think for us at PAAR, the road getting to our end goal is far more important than the giving part,” Lu said. “We want to change how people think of philanthropy within Greek houses but we also want to show people that fundraising is fun and should not be required, but should be something that we want to do.”
While there will be no regulations regarding how Greek organizations raise money for the competition, Lu said they will likely request donations and sell various items to other students on campus. Throughout the term, each organization will be responsible for reporting the total amount of money raised per week, he said.
“This will allow us to update our fundraising numbers on our Facebook and Twitter pages in order to keep Greek houses engaged in the competition,” Lu said.
PAAR’s five-student executive board, which is comprised of Lu, Harvey, deputy chairman Harrison Weidner ’14, treasurer Brendan Woods ’13 and director of marketing Patrick Healy ’13, selected the charitable organizations that PAAR will sponsor, according to Harvey.
“I think at Dartmouth specifically, domestic violence and sexual abuse are important parts of campus dialogue,” she said. “I think [selecting WISE] will be a good way to get the conversation started about these major issues.”
The Interfraternity Council approved the philanthropy program on Sept. 27, and the College’s Greek Leadership Council has also worked to promote the new fundraising competition, according to GLC moderator Trevor Chenoweth ’12.
“I’m excited to push for this program and we hope we can make PAAR a tradition on campus,” Chenoweth said. Greek organization members interviewed by The Dartmouth also expressed excitement about competition’s possibilities.
“Before I could blitz out to the house about participating [in PAAR], I had at least five girls already blitzing me about how our house could get involved,” Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority philanthropy chair Anna Norwood ’12 said. “There has been a really positive response and I think anything that’s going to stir up excitement for philanthropy is a great thing.”
Alpha Delta fraternity vice president of service Michael Schwartz ’12 also said members of his house have shown enthusiasm for the competition.
“AD hopes that PAAR will add a new element to pledge term, exposing new members to another side of the fraternity system outside of the basement,” Schwartz said in an email to The Dartmouth. “Community service is an integral component of being a brother in a fraternity.”
If the program is successful at the College, Lu said he hopes to expand PAAR to other campuses.
“We are definitely long-term focused in our goals,” Lu said. “We named our organization ‘All American’ because I think this program can become a way of unifying and bringing Greek systems from all over the country together.”