UT organization joins in city-wide nonprofit fundraiser

Janelle Polcyn

The UT chapter of Camp Kesem and 610 other nonprofit organizations around the city have a goal of collectively raising $9 million for their organizations in 24 hours, starting tonight at 6 p.m.

Camp Kesem is a year-round support group which focuses on kids whose parents have cancer or are cancer survivors, Joseph Panzarella, sports management senior and chapter director, said. The UT chapter started in 2012 and will counsel 120 kids this year, Panzarella said.

“Fundraising is such a big aspect of what we do, [so the team] puts on a ton of fundraising events,” said Samantha Finkenstaedt, nutrition and human biology junior and chapter coordinator.

Through Amplify Austin, a yearly program that encourages the community to donate to nonprofits, the chapter hopes to raise $2,500 — almost as much as they typically raise through events over one month.

Neuroscience junior and chapter coordinator Dionna Arimes said Camp Kesem will have ice cream sundaes, stations with camp activities and a video stream on campus to raise funds and get people to donate.

“Leading up to [our hourly competition], we are having an event in the FAC from 11 to 12,” Arimes said. “We are going to be posting videos of our power hour right at 12 to get people to donate. At 12, everyone is going to be going crazy because we want to message as many people as we can to donate.” 

Amplify Austin started in 2013 and has grown from a goal of $1 million to $9 million, said Catherine Lucchesi, director of communications and programming for I Live Here, I Give Here, the organization that produces Amplify Austin. It encourages organizations with hourly competitions or “bass boosters” and grand prizes, each based on donation amount and the number of donors.

“A lot of locals were noticing the donor population was not necessarily keeping up,” Lucchesi said. “Our organization decided to create an online giving day to energize young donors to find a cause and find that nonprofit they would like to invest in.”

Amplify Austin has an online marketplace for donations where every participating organization is listed and sorted by category. 

“The cool thing about Amplify Austin is that it’s the city’s way of giving back to nonprofits, so it’s a really good way for us to get our name out there,” Arimes said. “Having a profile on [the website] is another way to get our name out there.”