Raise Money, Inspire Leaders at Relays For Life

Phi Theta Kappa chapters raised more than $65,000 for the American Cancer Society through participation in Relay For Life events in 2015.

This is the 13th year Phi Theta Kappa chapters have partnered with the American Cancer Society to participate in Relay For Life events. Chapters have raised more than $3.8 million for the organization since 2002, making this the longest and most robust partnership the nonprofit has had with a member-based organization.

The American Cancer Society recently announced the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, which will provide grants to expand the adoption and implementation of 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free policies on college campuses across the nation. Grants will be funded to campus organizations like Relay For Life committees. The deadline to apply is Monday, May 30.

The Top 10 fundraising chapters were recognized at NerdNation 2016. Now, some of our successful chapters and alumni associations are sharing what they’ve learned to help you raise money and engage your members.

Alpha Nu Omega — $7,776

The Alpha Nu Omega Chapter from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in Pennsylvania raised the most money in 2015 at $7,776, but they didn’t do it alone. Participation from all five college campuses as well as area alumni helped them take the top spot.

Eighty chapter members, 22 alumni, 10 HACC faculty and staff members and around 40 friends and family members participated in the chapter’s Relay For Life campaign. The chapter formed six teams — one for each campus plus one for alumni — and participated in four Relay For Life events.

“Being that we have five campuses spread out across Central Pennsylvania, we needed to present our members and alumni with options,” said alumnus Michael Shoemaker.

The bulk of the funds were raised through private donations, silent auctions, bake sales and item sales at the events. The alumni team also raffled off a $500 VISA card, a custom-designed queen-sized quilt and nearly 30 gift baskets.

“You have to be persistent,” he said. “You’re going to hear the word ‘no’ a lot. You can’t take it personally, and you can’t let it put you in a place of feeling defeated and wanting to quit.”

The Alpha Nu Omega Chapter sees Relay For Life as more than a simple service project — Shoemaker said involvement does wonders for a chapter’s team-building skills.

“Through participation, the chapter will identify leaders, allow them to grow in their leadership roles and be able to analyze what worked and what didn’t,” he said. “The chapter will also need to research their local events, look into population spending habits and see what worked at other local events and prior Relay events.”

Shoemaker said it’s important to treat your volunteers with respect. Use a personal touch in your requests for donation, allow people to share their stories and think positively. And of course, have fun.

“A chapter is helping an amazing cause, and they should be having fun while doing it,” he said.

Alpha Mu Tau — $4,004

The Alpha Mu Tau Chapter from Collin College in Texas raised just over $4,000 with a team of 20 participants. 2015 was their sixth year to take part in a Relay For Life event.

“The fight against cancer and the overall Relay For Life event is a noble cause to support and work alongside of in order to make an everlasting impact for future generations and families,” said Angelica-Jasmine Bates, Alpha Mu Tau’s Vice President of Service. “Our chapter offered our services and had a memorable experience with the mentality that we are all capable of making a difference for others.”

Over the years, Alpha Mu Tau has held bake sales, hosted give-back nights at local restaurants, raffled off donated goods from local businesses and sold henna tattoos. They also ask local businesses to sponsor them by making a donation in exchange for putting their company name on the back of the team’s official t-shirt.

Relay For Life events have helped the Alpha Mu Tau Chapter engage with the local community and become more visible. Chapter members have formed close bonds amid their passion in finding a cure for cancer. Participants have watched their small donations join with others to make a big impact.

“Each and every one of us holds a seed of potential to be that difference and leave an impact on others,” Bates said. “The smallest things could become the most influential and be of great importance to someone else.”

Alpha of Ohio Alumni Association — $1,409

For the Alpha of Ohio Alumni Association, participating in Relay For Life events is a way to show current members that they support their efforts and to stay involved with their community.

“It’s a way of being grateful for the gifts you’ve been given,” said alumna Angelia Greenawalt. “There are many students that cancer has touched, so seeing us work so hard to eradicate it gives hope to many.”

Nearly all of the Alpha of Ohio members have been touched in some way by cancer, and the group participates each year in a Relay in Grove City, Ohio.

Alpha of Ohio accepted donations for the team at their table in the Marketplace of the 2015 Ohio Regional Convention. Their alumni members also donated money, and a variety of fundraisers were held, including yard sales and bazaars. The group also sold bracelets and ribbons throughout the year, and they sold various items at the Relay event.

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