Student Council’s public service committee held its second monthly Service Forum Monday to address issues related to NGOs and fundraising.
The goal of these monthly forums is to connect students with professions and community partners, committee co-chair Sarah Kenny said.
“The idea is to highlight skills CIOs feel that they want to develop and service sector areas they want to learn more about,” Kenny said. “We want to connect career and post-college service opportunities with the work that people are doing right now in college and bring that together in a monthly forum.”
The forums are also meant to provide opportunities for students to network with each other, Kenny said.
“There are 275 CIOs that are involved with service at U.Va,” Kenny said. “A lot of them have overlapping missions and they just don’t talk with each other. One goal of the Public Service Committee is to increase the collaboration between these groups to have a more impactful result.”
During the forum, 12 students posed questions to Maggie Patton, director of development for Madison House, third-year College student Emily Brown, a program director for Holiday Sharing and McIntire Business Institute alumna Emily Matthews, who works in the University Office of Engagement and University Advancement.
Topics of discussion included strategies for planning successful fundraising events, the best approaches to asking for donations, the role of online giving, and competition amongst service groups in a city saturated with nonprofits.
Patton and Matthews said social media could give their charitable organizations an edge.
“Keep your social media and communications as consistent as you can,” Patton said. “If you can get someone to post once a week, that’s really good. It’s important to keep people engaged.”
Matthews said larger CIOs could also create alumni newsletters to reach out to the community.
“If you are leveraging your communications, you will be able to capture the attention of alumni and direct it back to your website,” Matthews said.
Attendance at the event was much lower than the hundreds of students Kenny said she anticipated when she started planning the forums over the summer.
“As a result of the first two forums and how we’ve seen publicity turn out and the correlation between the two, we’re going to step back and look at how we can attract a greater audience before we put our funds towards putting on these forums,” Kenny said.
Going forward, the public service committee will work on building a public service brand, increasing outreach to students and following up on connections with CIOs, Kenny said.
“I have a lot of new ideas for next semester and am and excited about where the committee is going,” Kenny said.