For the love of fundraising

It’s not easy to start with nothing and raise $40,000 in a less than one semester, but one University of South Carolina class hopes to do that this fall — and it’s making steady progress.

Students in HRTM386, instructor Annette Hoover’s popular class on festival and event planning, set out each semester to raise money for a particular nonprofit. This semester, Hoover’s students are organizing “For the Love of Paws,” an event benefiting the Humane Society of South Carolina.

The Nov. 16 event at Tin Roof will feature performances by Nashville recording artist Barry Michaels and local band Waccamaw, as well as a silent auction, a pet adoption and food vendors, all dreamed up and arranged by the students with Hoover’s guidance.

“Their goal is $40,000 for the purchase of a mobile clinic for spaying and neutering that can be sent out to communities in S.C. where they have no veterinarians to help with the populations of feral cats and dogs,” Hoover says.  “And they have no budget. Their whole objective is to raise the money.”

To accomplish such a lofty goal, Hoover says, the class is broken into 14 different committees, each tasked with organizing a different aspect of the event. One committee, for example, handles sponsors and donors; another is responsible for coordinating the silent auction. Student Alison Paskalides is on the marketing and media committee.

“None of the students had put on an event before, but now we have put together two bands, food vendors, face-painting and much more,” says Paskalides. “We have been networking and creating an event from thin air.”

And that’s the whole point, according to Hoover, who has taught more than 20 event planning courses at the university and who also teaches other experiential learning classes such as the HRTM wedding-planning course.

“These students learn that nonprofits really have to be outgoing, and that the running of a nonprofit is totally different than the running of a for-profit,” Hoover says. “They really get the hearts and guts of what it’s like to be out there as a nonprofit. They start to understand what a 501(c)(3) is and how they can really make a difference in that charity’s life.”

Many of Hoover’s students end up pursuing careers in the event planning field, but even the ones who go into different careers come away knowing how to work as a team on a large-scale project. 

“This class has beyond prepared us for how to put on a nonprofit event in under five months,” Paskalides says. “It is not a typical class, since our teacher, Mrs. Hoover, does not stand in front of the classroom and teach us. Our class time is more in the style of a meeting, as we discuss what we still need.” 

Students call vendors and work closely with the host venue, the performers and the chosen charity. They contact the media, network with campus connections and maintain a social media presence. They’ve built a website for the event as well as an app. They schedule everything.

“In my opinion, this class is more like a job, and if we do not get sponsors and sell tickets, we are fired,” Paskalides says. “Since it’s a class, we would fail. I cannot decide which one would be worse.”

If you are going

For the Love of Paws will be 2-7 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 16) at the Tin Roof, 1022 Senate St., Columbia. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $10 for students, seniors and military and $40 for a family of four. You also can donate directly to the cause at the group's website.

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