Gamma Alpha, The College of William and Mary – Laser Tag Philanthropy Event

Author: Wesley Gray Smith, Gamma Lambda. Resident Chapter Consultant at Gamma Alpha, The College of William and Mary

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished, it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”

In March, the Gamma Alpha chapter at The College of William and Mary had a blast at their First Annual Phi Mu Laser Tag Tournament. The day was perfect; from good weather (thank goodness!) to excited teams. The event was well-planned and I didn’t spend the day thinking about logistics, who should be where, or what tasks still needed to be done (shout out to Lizzy – she had all of this under control). Instead, I spent the day thinking about giving back to the kids at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

In gathering my thoughts, I’ve written 9 tips on how to have a fun and rewarding philanthropy event with some details that go deeper than logistics.

  1. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box!
    • When I arrived at The College of William and Mary in January, the philanthropy chairwoman was already presenting her detail-oriented plan for the new philanthropy event. Laser Tag? How cool! She was excited to try something new and really go for it.
  1. Start planning early.
    • It’s never too early to get the ball rolling on the planning process. Like I mentioned above, she spent a lot of her Winter Break planning the overall event. It gave her a lot more time to focus on the details and time always passes way more quickly than you think.
  1. Make a task list and set goals.
    • I don’t know what I would do without a Google Sheets document with everything that needs to be done during the week. If you want to get really fancy, color code the categories. This is a lifesaver when planning events. I have a column for the task, notes, due date and date completed. It’s my FAVORITE.

  1. Communicate with your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital
    • Because at the end of the day, it’s all For the Kids! There are so many ways to connect with your local hospital when planning an event:
      • Invite families and hospital staff to your event! It would be awesome for them to speak at the event as well.
      • Have the local CMN Hospitals coordinator a local family attend a chapter meeting before the event to remind us what it’s all about! If they aren’t able to come in, ask if they can record a video for you.
      • Schedule a hospital tour during the semester.
      • Host a ‘family day’ to meet and get to know the local hospital’s families.
      • Connect with CMN Hospitals on social media.
      • Order your Miracle Band at mymiracleband.org
      • For more information about connecting with your local hospital, visit childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org and scroll until you see contact information for your local hospital on the left-hand side.
  1. Ask for help!
    • The event that you are planning is a really big deal, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use that committee full of rock stars! In working with committees, it’s important to meet and understand each other’s strengths. I am all for creating a task list and writing letters but when it comes to painting a banner, you might need to look elsewhere! It can really be helpful to know what your committee members are passionate about. Have a task list before the meeting. During the meeting, have committee members volunteer to take on each task. Set a due date and follow up with them to see how things are going!
    • Alumnae are also a great resource to ask for help. Gamma Alpha had donations from alumnae for their concession stand at Laser Tag!
  1. Advertise on campus.
    • I really love to get creative with this!
      • Set up a table in a common area on campus to advertise for your event.
      • Talk to people in class to let them know about the event. To take it the extra mile (and if this works at your university) ask the professor to make an announcement at the beginning of class and speak about the event.
      • Visit other organization’s chapter meetings to give them more information.
      • Make Facebook cover photos.
      • Have a countdown to the event on Instagram.
      • Hang flyers all over campus!
      • Use chalk to write on the sidewalks so people learn more information walking to class.

  1. Stay calm through the curveballs.
    • For Laser Tag, the location was moved at the last minute, it was nearly impossible to find a rain date or location and Spring Break made it difficult to get teams to sign up really far in advance. My advice is just to remain calm! Everything will work out and it’s much easier to problem solve when you aren’t panicking.
  1. Get the chapter excited by giving everyone a responsibility.
    • One of my favorite planning elements about Laser Tag was the beautiful “shift chart” that gave each chapter member an assigned task for each of the three shifts during the event. Rotating between coaching, ticket table, concessions, and field cheerleader kept things exciting. It was super organized and everyone had an important and special role.
  1. Reflect on the event.
    • Your awesome event is over and I know you just want to head to get frozen yogurt with your sisters and not think about the event for a while. Do that! But then come back to your computer and brainstorm everything that lead to the event’s success and any tips/areas for improvement you would make to the next philanthropy chairman. This will help so much in growing your event in the future. For Laser Tag, the philanthropy chairman made a Google Folder of all the information and documents she used throughout the planning process to share with the next person.

I hope you use these tips and tricks to plan an amazing philanthropy event! can’t wait to see what all of you accomplish! Remember – you are making a difference!