THON Shatters Fundraising Record, Shows Passion of Donors
I admit, this is a bit of a shout-out to my alma mater. The Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon — aka THON — began in 1973 and has grown to become the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Each and every year, donors seemingly find a way to set a new high in funds raised. But in the midst of the toughest economic times in decades, expectations have been tampered. Yet every year, the Penn State students spread the word and fundraise their tails off and keep raising the bar. Last year, THON brought in more than $7.8 million to fight pediatric cancer, setting a new record by increasing the 2009 total by $347,920.49.
This past weekend, THON 2011 shattered that. The 46-hour dance marathon brought in an astounding $9,563,016.09, an increase of $1,724,961.73 over the 2010 event. It truly is a remarkable feat. Year after year, regardless of outside factors like a recession and rampant unemployment, students and donors all across the globe donate their time and money at record-setting rates.
And that brings me to a conversation I recently had with Major George Hood, the national spokesperson for the Salvation Army. When discussing the long-standing success of the Red Kettle Drive, even in the face of financial hardships, Hood said, "The real heart of the matter is that when there are difficult times in this country, the American public wants to help, and they will just dig deep and throw in that loose change or write a check … any way they can."
The incredible fundraising success of THON is simply more proof of that. And it should provide every fundraiser with hope and optimism that donors want to give; donors want to be engaged, included and asked; and that donors will give in remarkable numbers and amounts, in good times and bad.