Student highlight: Centennial CCPR event class
Every year, Centennial post-graduate students must plan a charity event. Groups of four to six students and are given just under two months to plan a charity event with no budget. Add a final grade to the event and the stakes are even higher.
At the Pickering campus the events management course requires students to plan, promote and execute an event. In the Durham region with a smaller population to work with and few local business and facilities, the challenge was fierce. Groups were tasked with raising at least $1,000 for a charity of choice.
Group 1: Pushing for Power
At one Centennial campus, students were working on the “It’s Time” campaign to raise awareness for the International Day of People with Disabilities recognizing the power of disabilities. “Pushing for Power” sought to raise funds and awareness for CAF‘s It’s Time campaign!
MUMBA, the Markham-Unionville Minor Basketball Association, sponsored the venue and also provided the trophy, medals for the top three teams and reversible jerseys for players. Starbucks and Kerry’s Pizza provided refreshments and the wonderful referees, scorekeepers and volunteers kept the tournament running smoothly.
A total of 14 prizes were raffled, including $350 in gift cards, signed Adam Folker basketball gear, signed Raptors merchandise donated by MLSE and tickets to the February 2 Raptors game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.
Every aspect of the event was sponsored or donated and all funds generated went directly to the
charity. In total $1,779.68 was raised for CAF.
Group 2: More than just a Brew
At the other Centennial campus, another team organized a coffee and tea tasting event at Aroma Espresso Bar at Bay and Dundas, featuring a guest speaker, live entertainment and sustainable activities centered on coffee culture. The eco-themed event showcased organic Pluck Teas with locally sourced ingredients from Niagara, Muskoka and Prince Edward County.
During the two-hour event, $1,500 was raised. These funds will directly benefit underprivileged children in local neighbourhoods through Evergreen’s children education programs.
Tips for planning your event
Pound the pavement early
Sponsorship takes time and a personal touch. It was a challenge finding time to visit businesses during the day with class, part-time jobs and group work. Prioritize the time because raffle and auction items can be a big incentive for some guests.
Leverage your personal network
Don’t underestimate your personal connections. One instructor, Chrissy Newton, encouraged students to reach out to contacts in their personal networks. Through a previous internship, we reached out to The Body Shop’s head office which led to an armful of products for a raffle gift basket.
2. Promotions and media relations
Aim for a mix of pre and post-event coverage
Send tailored pitches to key media. I contacted Karen Bliss, the founder of Samaritan Magazine.. While she was unable to attend our event, she offered pre-event coverage. We also reached out to media featuring community events including City Nights, BlogTO and Snapd.
Be optimistic and don’t get discouraged
Reach out to media and influencers, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back. You never know when your cause might resonate with someone. At the very least, they might give you pre-event coverage or a social media mention.
3. On-site at the event
Don’t fret over minor issues
Try to envision your event down to the nitty-gritty details leading up to your event, including raffle signage and assigning someone to take care of the band. Remain cool, calm and collected. The unexpected will happen. At our event, coat racks overflowed, signage didn’t stick well to textured walls. You can’t let the small stuff exacerbate your stress during the event.
Recruit reliable volunteers
I asked a few Centennial peers and my close university friends to help at the event. Find volunteers to help with minor setup and teardown tasks so you can focus on bigger tasks.
In total, Centennial College teams at the Story Arts Centre and Pickering Campus planned events in support of 16 organizations listed below. What other advice would you give to students planning events through school?
- The Children’s Breakfast Club
- Interval House
- Red Door Family Shelter
- Variety Village
- Kids Now
- Look Good Feel Better
- Toronto Mental Health Association
- Greenhope for Children
- Leave Out Violence (LOVE)
- Wilkinson Jr. P.S.
- Canada Cares
- Feed the Need in Durham
- The Canadian Abilities Foundation
Jessica and Katryna are both students in Centennial College’s CCPR program and are student representatives on CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee.