Honoring a Friend: Basketball Tournament
Connor Skaggs is a recent graduate of Washington State University and member of Phi Kappa Sigma. Connor and his fraternity organized a fundraiser last fall in memory of their brother, Rahul. Not only did their event raise spirits, giving the campus community an outlet and opportunity to connect and support each other following this tragedy, but also raised $10,000 surpassing their initial fundraising goal of $3,000! JED is very grateful to Connor, the members of Phi Kappa Sigma, and their donors. Please read Connor’s story below in his own words.
How We Raised $10,000 (And How You Can Too!)
By Connor Skaggs
My name is Connor. I’m a senior at Washington State and president of my fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma. Last year, one of my fraternity brothers took his own life. His name was—is—Rahul.
I’ll never forget the hurt of not only mourning his loss but watching how his death was affecting my brothers and not knowing how to fix it. Weeks passed, and some of us still weren’t going to class. It was just too hard to get out of bed. Simple tasks like eating and showering seemed impossible. Like others left behind after a suicide, I felt hopeless, scared, and confused. I spent my days wondering why he did it. I couldn’t just “snap out of it.” We had to do something… It didn’t take long to figure out what had to happen. We would throw a fundraiser for JED in honor of Rahul, doing what he loved most: basketball.
Basketball tournaments are easy to organize, generate a lot of attention, and they have the potential to raise a lot of money. Organizing our tournament started with a consensus within the fraternity that this was what we wanted to do. We voted so when the time came to plan and organize the event, everyone was involved. This had the added advantage of helping members get over their loss by committing themselves to a cause. Everyone had some skin in the game. We agreed on a date and set a fundraising goal of $3000.
We collected all the pictures we could find of Rahul and created a collage that told his story. We printed flyers. We Tweeted. We flew his mom out for the event.It was nothing for us to rent a gym for the day. We have a basketball court at the fraternity house but ultimately decided to rent one of the university’s courts instead. As we say at Washington State, “Cougs help Cougs!” We looked for corporate sponsors, and talked to local businesses, churches, charities, pizza joints and more. They were happy to help with either donations, prizes, or covering overhead.
The week of our event, we started a crowdfunding page and promoted it like crazy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram…anything and everything. We’re a chapter of eighty guys. Eighty guys posting a link to your crowd-sourcing page every day for a week generated a lot of attention. We sold tickets mostly to the other fraternities and sororities on campus, but didn’t turn anyone away which gave the community a chance to rally around our cause.
Finally, what I think is most important: we engaged our volunteers and thanked our donors. All in all, this fundraiser was effective, fun, and generated a lot of attention for our cause. We loved putting our event on and look forward to doing even better next year!