Students compete for donations at Texas Charity Pitch

Jameson Pitts

Eighty professionally dressed students paced through the halls of the Student Activity Center on Saturday while rehearsing their pitches, determined to win the prize for their chosen cause.

Student teams presented charities to a panel of judges in a competition for a $6,000 pool of donations, hosted by the student organization University Securities Investment Team.

The team manages an investment portfolio that supports the event. Cliffe Kim, management information systems junior and the vice president of the organization, said the competition allows the organization to choose a charitable outlet for its investment earnings.

“The whole idea is that throughout the year, the portfolio will make money,” Kim said. “We take that money that we make off the portfolio and give it off to charity, along with the help of corporate sponsors.”

After registering, student teams research their chosen charity and develop a presentation on its financial effectiveness to present to alumni and finance industry judges in a bracket-style competition. 

“We don’t want to put our judges in a position where they have to choose between a charity that helps orphans in Africa and a charity that helps homeless here in Austin,” Kim said. “What we ask participants to do is pose the problem in a very logical way and give hard quantitative data on what the problem is.”

The event is an opportunity for students from any major to persuade judges to award money to a charity personally meaningful to them. Austin Partridge, business honors and finance sophomore, and his team pitched the charity Baal Dan, which fights child poverty. Partridge’s team pitched Baal Dan because another member of their team works with the student chapter on campus.

“We all decided that it was a great charity,” Partridge said. “It’s my second year doing [the event], and it’s my favorite event that I [participated in] last year.”

The top five teams advanced to the final round, and the judges awarded donations to the top three organizations, including $3,000 to the winning group, Inside Books Project.

Inside Books provides books and educational materials for prisoners in Texas. Plan II business freshman Karna Venkatraj, a member of the winning team, said he was happy to be able to help a marginalized community.

“We really believe in the objective of Inside Books, and it just feels great to support a charity that can do so much good for so many people all across Texas,” Venkatraj said.