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THON Bans All Fundraising That Requires Travel

by on April 09, 2019 12:05 AM

Penn State's student-run philanthropy THON will no longer permit any fundraising that requires out-of-town travel, the organization announced Monday in a statement on its website.

“We recognize that this decision raises concerns and will be a transition for all stakeholders,” THON 2019 executive director Kelly McCready and THON 2020 executive director Regina Duesler wrote in the statement. “THON is committed to providing opportunities for involvement and fundraising to our volunteers, alumni, and supporters despite these changes. With this decision, we recognize the need to provide alternative fundraising methods in order to engage all THON volunteers and stakeholders.”

THON’s 2020 fundraising window opens July 1, and the statement further outlines the following changes to be implemented:

  • THON Nation (non-student supporters) Fundraisers can be held and credited beginning on July 1, 2019.
  • Corporate solicitations can begin on July 1, 2019. A digital version of the corporate packet will be available by that date.
  • Any checks dated and post-marked starting July 1, 2019 will be credited to the organization indicated.
  • As decided in 2019, any donations made on DonorDrive will be credited beginning July 1, 2019.

THON decided to phase out canning — the practice of traveling to other areas on scheduled weekend to solicit individual donations — beginning in 2016 “for the dual purpose of keeping our volunteers safe and encouraging more sustainable forms of fundraising,” the organization said at the time. Students responded quickly to plan creative alternative fundraisers, hoping to maintain THON’s annual fundraising total.

Canvassing — for which individual organizations planned their own direct door-to-door soliciting that was not confined to scheduled weekends — later seemed to replace canning in some sense, as well as “ribboning” in which small groups of students sold yellow ribbons as a fundraiser. After students were involved in multiple, relatively minor car accidents while canvassing, THON decided in November 2018 to cancel all fundraising that required out-of-town travel for the rest of the THON 2019 fundraising year.

THON raised $10.6 million in 2019 for the Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children's hospital, providing support for pediatric cancer patients and their families and pediatric cancer research. The 2019 total was a $470,000 increase over the prior year.

“We truly appreciate each of our volunteers and your dedication to this organization and the families,” McCready and Duesler said in a statement. “We will continue to keep THON’s mission at our core by supporting our families and spreading awareness. Together, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer.”

Elissa Hill is managing editor for Onward State.
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