By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
It goes by a captivating name – “Be a Hero Day” – and has a truly grand entrepreneurial purpose.
Scheduled for this Wednesday (April 27), the one-day event is part of the VOLstarter initiative of the Office of Alumni Affairs at the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville. We profiled the program in a two-part teknovation.biz series in September 2015. (Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.)
The hero idea refers to alumni and other donors helping make the creative ideas of students, faculty and staff become a reality.
VOLstarter is a year-round initiative, very similar to Kickstarter or Indiegogo, that is targeted at alumni who want to help their alma mater. The tagline on the webpage says it all – “Be a Vol. Fund a Vol.” Members of the UT community submit applications for projects to be considered for funding. If approved, the projects are placed on the VOLstarter webpage for 30 to 45 days.
All funds raised go to the requesting organization. Administrative costs for the program is absorbed by the university.
While the program is operated throughout the year, there is one concentrated effort over a 24-hour period.
“VOLstarter’s Hero Day allows anyone to be a hero and support the UT community,” says Lance Taylor, UT’s Director of Annual Giving and Student Philanthropy. “VOLstarter is the bridge to help our donors directly impact our student, faculty and staff’s ideas, dreams and goals. On this particular day, more donors come together than ever before enabling something great to happen.”
The 2015 edition of the 24-hour effort resulted in $14,000 being donated to help fund 13 projects.
“Our hope is that over 350 donors decide to give on the platform on April 27,” said Kristen Watt, Assistant Director of Annual Giving. “Each donor decides which UT student, faculty and/or staff project they would like to give to. Once they choose the project, they make a donation and 100% of their contribution goes to that project and its success.”
Watt says that 10 projects are expected to be seeking funding on April 27 although the number could change slightly as the date gets closer.