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