|Team members at the ECIRMAC Fundraising Dinner with Guadalupe Abreu.|
Team: Danielle, Madeline, Stephanie and Christa
For our team project we collaborated with the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (AKA ECIRMAC) to help raise money and plan their Fifth Annual Refugee Center Fundraising Dinner. ECIRMAC is located in Urbana and works to aid refugees and immigrants that are settling in the area, and to help with the preservation and exchange of each person’s culture. Because ECIRMAC is a non-profit organization, they relay greatly on the community for donations in order to survive. Their largest fundraising event each year is their Fundraising Dinner. Part of our job to help the dinner included expanding awareness to the campus community and getting more students informed about the center and their mission. In order to promote ECIRMAC’s message and the event on campus, we contacted the Daily Illini and had an article written in it about the event, and what ECIRMAC is all about. We contacted the Greek community and asked for donations for the event, all the while educating this population about ECIRMAC. We also went to local businesses and asked for donations or gift cards to raffle off at the dinner.
On the actual day of the dinner we arrived at St. Patrick’s Church to assist in set-up for later that evening. The other volunteers were thankful for our contribution and the set-up went by very quickly with our help. That night we were the hosts in the silent auction, we made sure that event went smoothly and helped with any questions. The dinner was a great success, however we noticed that it was hard for students at the university to participate because the ticket price was to high for the average student. Therefore planned an event at Joe’s Brewery where students could purchase a wristband to support ECIRMAC, and enjoy a night of fun. We raised about $300 with this event, and are excited that the campus community was able to find a way to contribute to ECIRMAC without having to go to the dinner.
All the money raised from the dinner goes towards helping ECIRMAC carry out their mission and manage the daily cost of operation. The refugees and immigrants in this region will benefit from this money because ECIRMAC will now be able to fully operate all of their services. They offer job placement and job placement and supportive employment services, orientation, translation, liaison, referral, counseling, and advocacy. They provide local sponsors with liaison and translation services and resettlement information. A very important thing ECIRMAC does is the promoting preservation of language, culture, and traditions of all refugees and immigrants. The money we raised will definitely help all of these endeavors.
Looking back on the project as a whole, our group realized a few things we wish we had done differently as well as suggestions for future groups. While setting up for the dinner, we thought a few steps could have been done ahead of time to move the process along, especially with all the volunteers at the center on a daily basis. There were about 400 informational pamphlets that could have been folded before the day of. As well, there were bows that needed to be tied to vases of flowers that could have been done ahead of time. Other than that, the setup moved efficiently with all the volunteers that were able to help out.
Another problem we noticed about the dinner event was that by setting the ticket prices at 60 dollars each, it excludes a large amount of people that may want to donate and contribute to the cause but cannot afford it, especially students. Perhaps by expanding their event and moving it to a bigger venue, ECIRMAC can offer discounted ticket prices to students and less fortunate individuals. By lowering the price the event can include more people and gain more contributors, ultimately generating more profit and a more successful turnout in the end. This change would make it a lot easier for students to get involved and help ECIRMAC work towards their mission.
Our group also took it upon ourselves to raise extra funds for the center from the campus community. Our most successful event was a benefit night at Joe’s Brewery where we sold wristbands for discounted drinks on a specific night. In the future, we would have tried to get the word out about this event earlier than we were able to. By organizing this earlier we feel we could have had an even better turnout. Another idea we had, but were not able to execute, was a benefit dinner somewhere on Green Street. We were planning on contacting a local restaurant to sponsor a night where 10% of the proceeds benefited ECIRMAC. With limited time, we were unable to get this setup but in the future we feel like it would be another successful event. Lastly, start to contact businesses for donations/silent auction items as early as possible. Surprisingly, many businesses in the area are willing to donate to the center and that is all profit during the silent auction activities. We did not have much success from the Greek community as planned. If time is available, we thought of possibly doing dinner announcements to these houses to get the word out about the center for either donations or to sell wristbands for the Joe’s event.