Story by Connor Jaschen, Features Editor
Alpha Sigma Phi brought a 21st century redesign to the age old philanthropy event concept with their new fundraising Facebook page, the Alpha Sig Philanthropy Challenge to benefit the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network, or RAINN. This event consists of a Facebook group where students from all over Murray State and even the country post challenges for someone else to perform, with the promise of a donation upon completion, said Nathan Payne, senior from Owensboro, Kentucky and philanthropy chair for Alpha Sigma Phi.
The event was inspired by a combination of a Maryland chapter’s philanthropy event and the experience of trying to raise money through setting up an on-campus dunk tank. When Payne saw how ineffective asking college students for cash was, he said he knew there needed to be a change. Instead, Payne decided to rely solely on online donations.
“I don’t use cash,” Payne said. “A lot of students carry cards. It’s a lot easier to utilize technology.”
Though similar events, such as Alpha Sigma Alpha’s Campus Plunge, have utilized online fundraising options in the past, this is the first philanthropy event to rely solely on online donations. This is also the first philanthropy to rely solely on participant-generated events.
While Payne’s goal for the philanthropy was set at a staggering $4,000, the philanthropy ended the first of the two weeks behind schedule. As of 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, the philanthropy had raised $737 in online donations, though Payne said he is hoping for an increase in donations as the week goes on.
“The positive is it’s a Facebook group,” Payne said. “We paid nothing.”
The idea of the event costing the chapter nothing was a major selling point, Payne said.
“We’re very money conscious right now,” Payne said. “So when I told them, ‘Hey guys, I have a philanthropy we won’t have to pay anything to get started,’ […] their eyes just lit up.”
Payne said some interesting challenges have arisen, including challenges that apparently led to Barrett Pazderka, president of Lambda Chi Alpha, being spotted on campus in a chicken costume.
One challenge Payne said he was frustrated by was directed at his fraternity brother, Joe Kedanis, in which he was challenged to shave his head, ridding him of his shoulder length hair. Payne said jokingly that he couldn’t help but call his brother out.
“We challenged him eight hundred dollars to shave his head,” Payne said. “And he would not do it.”
Kedanis denied the challenge once more after the price was upped again, Payne said.
“I can’t believe he wouldn’t cut his hair,” Payne said, laughing. “It was ridiculous!”
With a challenge-based philanthropy, though, Payne said he was forced to be conscious about moderating what was going on between participants. With the help of the three other administrators of the page – Trent Fenwick, Austin Brewer and Kyle McDonald, Payne logged on every day to make sure no challenges went too far.
“We set the rules,” Payne said. “No. 1, you don’t do anything to break the law. No. 2, you don’t do anything with this big ‘h-word,’ hazing. You do that, it’s gone.”
Payne said luckily, the issue of inappropriate challenges has not become apparent. An unforeseen issue that has come about, though, is the issue of challengers not donating the money they had previously promised.
“Seeing some of the challenges and seeing the money, they’re not exactly equaling up,” Payne said.
In light of this, Payne shifted the equation of the challenges so that participants are encouraged to make their donations after the challenge is accepted, but before the challenge is completed.
“It’s a cool feeling to know that an event that you put together is raising so much money for philanthropy,” Payne said.
This two-week experiment for their philanthropy has been a success, said Payne and one he would like to see continue into the future, unless a better alternative is brought up.
“I just want people to know they can donate without making challenges,” Payne said. “There is no minimum or maximum. If you can just find a little bit, it helps.”
For those wishing to donate, the philanthropy donation page is found at fundraise.rainn.org/alphasigphilanthropychallenge.