Tired of doing the same old Derby Days events and sharing the same things on social media year after year? Read on for ideas from chapters across North America.
Kickoff Session (Beta Rho, Montana State University)
Beta Rho, Montana State University, kicked off their Derby Days with an informational session that reminded chapter brothers and participants why they were fundraising. At this event, they thanked everyone for coming, went over their event schedule, spoke on recent cancer research, and asked the audience full of sorority women and others in their campus community to share their own experiences with cancer. The combination of touching personal stories and compelling speakers helped every participant understand the power in raising money for cancer research at HCI.
Feel free to incorporate women into the event to introduce Sigma Chi’s new pledge dedicated toward research and wellness for women’s cancers. Reach out to Huntsman Cancer Foundation ([email protected]) to ask for tips, talking points, pictures, slide decks, etc.
- Plan ahead. Invite and confirm speakers as early as possible and secure a date, time, and location for the event.
- Increase attendance size by handing out pre-ordered merchandise, offering refreshments, having a raffle prize, or take attendance for Derby Days competition points.
- Have a photo booth where attendees can take photos, write out the name of the person they’re fundraising for, and share it on their social media with their donation links to their fundraising page on website.
Sigs and Suds (Lambda Tau, Florida Atlantic University)
Need an event idea for your entire campus community? Lambda Tau, Florida Atlantic University, sees the value in incorporating their entire campus in their Derby Days. One year for their campus event, they thought the whole campus could benefit from a car wash named Sigs and Suds. This event brought in Greek and non-Greek affiliated students, professors, members of their administration, and even campus police.
Dance Competition (Lambda Nu, Loyola University Chicago)
Lambda Nu hosted a dance competition where sorority chapters competed to win the most creative dance. In between performances, they had sorority women and Sigma Chi members talk about what it means to them to be The Generation to End Cancer™ and how cancer has affected their own lives.
One of the most memorable portions of the evening was when a brother shared his story about his mother's battle with cancer. He shaved his head in support of his mother during her treatment. This brother’s story and others like his were beautiful reminders of why each team was participating in Derby Days and dedicating themselves to become The Generation to End Cancer™. Through their combination of unique events and connecting the “why” to their fundraising efforts, Lambda Nu and the Loyola Chicago community raised $37,586 during Derby Daysthat year and joined the 50K club for the third time.
Head-Shaving Auction (Delta Omega, University of Tulsa)
Delta Omega, University of Tulsa, held an event called the Head-Shaving Auction. This event brought family, friends, and members of the University of Tulsa Greek Community out to watch and participate in shaving off the hair of Delta Omega chapter members in support of cancer research at HCI.
- Plan ahead: ask chapter brothers to let you know if they would like to pledge to shave their head before you do any external marketing.
- Designate an auctioneer: consider your philanthropy chair, your chapter sweetheart, or a chapter alum.
- Before the events starts, share the “why?” behind the event in order to encourage participants to give more and help them understand where their dollars are going.
- At the event, whoever bids the highest amount on each chapter member will get to shave the head of that member.
- Take photos and video of the event to share on social media.
Flashlight Tribute (Alpha, Miami University, Ohio)
Alpha, Miami University, hosted an inspiring kickoff celebration for Derby Days. All of the sororities were invited to make a banner and join together to start their Derby Days competition. At this celebration, the brothers of Sigma Chi expressed their gratitude for the sorority women’s involvement in their philanthropic efforts. During the event, they turned off the lights and asked everyone who has personally been impacted by cancer or knows someone who has been affected to turn on their cellphone flashlights. The room was illuminated as nearly everyone held up their cellphone. They held a moment of silence to acknowledge those who have been affected by cancer and to recognize the severity of the disease. This was an inspiring event for all of the participants and a great way to drive home the importance of their fundraising efforts.
- Plan a dinner, informational session, or Derby Days wrap up event.
- Invite members of your Greek and campus community.
- At the event ask people to stand up if they are cancer survivors, followed by those with someone in their family affected by cancer, and finally those who know someone who has been affected by cancer, inviting each group to turn on their phone flashlights while standing. The whole room will most likely be on their feet with their lights on.
- After this, have a chapter member speak about why fundraising for cancer research is so important and have them ask the crowd to give more
March Madness (Beta Lambda, Duke University)
Need an event idea for your entire Greek community? Beta Lambda, Duke University, hosts an annual March Madness bracket, where 100% of the proceeds go to HCI. The event brings in not only members from their chapter, but sorority and other fraternity members on their campus.
- Be proactive in your marketing efforts weeks before March Madness begins.
- Anyone can fill out a bracket, but we strongly encourage participants to pay $10 for one bracket, $20 for two, or $25 for three, etc.
- Only participants who donate to complete a bracket are eligible to win the grand prize at the end, which is often donated by a local business or alumni of the chapter.
Think Pink (Delta Delta, Purdue University)
Delta Delta, Purdue University, co-hosts an event called Think Pink with one of their campus sororities, Zeta Tau Alpha. This event brings family, friends, campus faculty, and sorority members together who have been affected by women's cancers to raise funds for cancer research at HCI, promote awareness, and educate attendees about recommended screening guidelines.
- Partner with a sorority on campus that shares Sigma Chi's commitment to be The Generation to End Cancer™.
- Plan ahead, meet with their philanthropy chair, and discuss beforehand how you will split the proceeds. In this case Zeta Tau Alpha allowed Sigma Chi to direct all proceeds to Huntsman Cancer Foundation, and they wanted to lead the awareness initiatives.
- Make sure there is something that participants can put their money towards in exchange for something else. Delta Delta held a bake sale at the event to fundraise more.
Campus Cancer Screenings (Alpha Omicron Chapter, Tulane University)
Alpha Omicron at Tulane University set an incredible goal to fundraise $100,000 in the 2019–2020 school year for Huntsman Cancer Foundation. They began their participation in 2017, raising $6,000, and each year has seen astonishing increases in their fundraising efforts, with $53,000 in 2018 and an incredible $80,360 in 2019. Alpha Omicron attributes the majority of its success to its efforts to educate and spread awareness about the importance of cancer research to the campus community, Greek community, and alumni brothers. This year, the chapter has facilitated cancer screenings on their campus by local cancer specialists as a part of Derby Days. Encouraging individuals on their campus to get screened not only spreads awareness but reinforces why the mission to be The Generation to End Cancer™ is so personal to all of us.
- Plan ahead. Invite and confirm cancer screening physicians as early as possible and secure a date, time, and location for the event.
- Boost participation by handing out pre-ordered merchandise, offering refreshments, having a raffle prize, or taking attendance for Derby Days competition points.
- Share the event information to soroity participants, fraternity members, alumni, and campus faculty and staff.
The Impact of Personal Fundraising (Gamma Phi, University of Miami)
Gamma Phi, University of Miami in Florida, has found new inspiration behind their fundraising efforts for Huntsman Cancer Foundation (HCF). In a recent school year, one of Gamma Phi's philanthropy chairs had a close family member battling a cancer diagnosis. His willingness to share how he was affected by cancer inspired his brothers to recognize the importance of cancer research. They raised a significant amount before their Derby Days began. Gamma Phi brothers have taken it upon themselves to send personal emails to family and friends, inviting them to donate and support their efforts. Many have individually raised $1,000 to $5,000 each. This chapter is a great example and inspiration that reminds all of us why Sigma Chi has partnered with HCF. The brothers of Gamma Phi have shown that it takes teamwork and dedication to make a difference and become The Generation to End Cancer™.
- Identify a member of your chapter who has been personally affected by cancer, and ask them to share why fundraising for HCF is important to them.
- If they are willing, ask them to challenge your chapter brothers, sorority participants, and alumni to aim higher and personally fundraise more, because it is a cause that affects all of us.
- Bonus: Find a sorority participant who has also been affected by cancer and ask her to share her story.
Creating Teams on Huntsman Challenge Website (Beta Phi, University of Arizona)
Beta Phi, the University of Arizona, has done a phenomenal job at incorporating the team component of the Huntsman Challenge website into Derby Days to maximize their fundraising efforts. Beta Phi has customized teams for each pledge class, the individual sororities on campus, and the alumni chapters that are involved in their Derby Days. It encourages a degree of friendly competition among their participants and has increased the number of people committed to being The Generation to End Cancer™.
Utilizing the Huntsman Challenge website is an easy way for all chapters to fundraise and track their donations throughout the year. The Huntsman Challenge website is designed specifically for Sigma Chi donations to Huntsman Cancer Foundation and can be tailored to your specific chapter's needs. If you have any questions about the website, please don't hesitate to reach out to the HCF team at [email protected].
Derby Days Instagram Account (Eta Omega, Baylor University)
Eta Omega has done an outstanding job at creating awareness for cancer research and advertising for their fall Derby Days through social media. They created a separate Derby Days Instagram account (@baylor_derby_days) to post graphics, event flyers, and photos to inform their surrounding communities about their fundraising efforts and Derby Days events. Their chapter made a Derby Days video to advertise their events and created interactive ways to fundraise money through social media.
Instagram Stories Campaign (Lambda Epsilon, University of New Haven)
Lambda Epsilon, University of New Haven, created a fun and interactive way for chapter members, sorority members, and campus participants to fundraise more for their Derby Days teams. Lambda Epsilon utilized social media by executing an Instagram story campaign. The chapter created a graphic for each participant to share on their Instagram story. The participants then asked their followers to fill in a circle with a specified donation amount and then donate that amount to their team. This campaign embraced the marketing strategy of healthy competition and brought in nearly $3,000 towards their $30,000 goal.
- Make the Instagram graphic in advance and personalize it for each team.
- Share the graphic with each team's leader and ask them to distribute it to their team.
- Direct all donations to this website under your school's page.
Email-a-thon (Alpha Upsilon, University of Southern California)
Alpha Upsilon, University of Southern California, held an email-a-thon that resulted in substantial philanthropic success. They raised $20,000 in the span of just a few days. During this event, members of their chapter reached out to alumni, family, friends, and those in their surrounding community asking them for a donation to help fund cancer research at HCI. Their philanthropy committee encouraged participation and excitement by organizing raffle prizes for participants. For every $50 raised, chapter members could enter for a chance to win an assortment of prizes. The email-a-thon was a great way to start their fundraising campaign and get the community involved in Derby Days. This event helped them begin to build relationships with individuals and businesses in their community that will be beneficial in years to come.
Using HCF Videos (Eta Beta, California State University, Long Beach)
Video is a versatile and easily digestible form of content that can help educate your audience about your mission. Eta Beta at California State University, Long Beach, has found excellent fundraising success in utilizing the videos produced by Huntsman Cancer. The chapter has shared these videos on their social media platforms, on their fundraising webpage, and at their events. The videos have inspired sorority participants and Sigma Chi alumni to join their mission to be The Generation to End Cancer™.