The University Program Board student organization is adding a philanthropic arm to its current entertainment efforts on campus to raise money and support for off-campus charities following tragic events.
The new effort, “PBGivesBack,” began last week in conjunction with Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in which members of Program Board participated in service events, packed winter essentials kits for the homeless, and brought food trucks to campus to give a percentage of the proceeds back to Campus Ministry.
“There are a lot of unfortunate things going on in the world that most people can’t really control — a lot of tragedies, mass shootings, hurricanes, and more — so we decided we want to use our power for good and help out as we plan events for students,” said Timmy Holland, president of Program Board
The premise, according to Holland, is to use the organization’s presence and reputation on campus to plan events with the goal of making a difference in the greater community. This will involve the creation of additional small events and collaborative efforts to the more than 45 school functions the organization already plans each year.
For the kinds of programs that will come from PBGivesBack, Holland points to events like a recent Chipotle fundraiser in which Program Board gave a percentage of proceeds to Catholic Charities USA to use for Puerto Rican relief efforts following Hurricane Maria. Program Board has shown the ability to plan events logistically, and has a notable presence on campus that students consistently engage with.
“We’re event planners, and we’re good at what we do,” Holland said. “So let’s plan events that are in some way philanthropic and give back.”
The idea behind this humanitarian effort came from the university’s response to writing cards of support and solidarity to children in Charlottesville after the white supremacist protests in August. Program Board plans on scheduling seasonal charity events, such as a Christmas toy drive at this year’s Mistletoe Ball, but Holland notes that the organization will also react and respond to current events like the protests in Charlottesville and the need for help in Puerto Rico.
The Office of Campus Activities and the administration raised concerns about a potential shift in the identity and mission of Program Board. The idea was originally to set up some type of Program Board Foundation, but the conversations eventually led to this separate effort being created, Holland said. The organization aims to avoid confusing the student on what to expect from a Program Board event, and will focus on the branding of this new effort.
“If we were to just add these events on to our Program Board scheduling, we feared that people might get confused as to why one event might be free to come paint a canvas while another one would involve paying for a hotdog, for example,” Holland said. “We needed to separate these events from normal Program Board events where students come for free, eat some food, and leave, and branding will get rid of any confusion.”
PBGivesBack events will be paid for by the organization’s own fundraising resources, and not by the Treasury Board’s allotment of the student activity fee that Program Board receives each year to operate. It is new territory for Holland and his staff of 28 other students that comprise a programming and marketing branch, but they are excited to program events that will donate proceeds to other charitable causes.
“To my knowledge, this is the first effort of its kind just because it is a big venture to take on,” Holland said. “Thankfully we have a really strong team this year to get it up and running as fast as we have, which I am very thankful for.”