University of Florida – Semi-Annual Pho Fundraiser

Most Outstanding Philanthropic Program: University of Florida


Provide a detailed description of the philanthropic program and the population it served. Details MUST include: date of event, number of participants, program purpose (goals, objectives, etc.), use of resources (finances, community support, etc.), marketing techniques and evaluation processes.

VSO held its semi-annual Pho Fundraiser on 11/13/16 and 03/26/17. This event sells traditional Vietnamese foods to raise money for the national philanthropic program. We had 30+ volunteers to help prep, cook, and serve the food items and to advertise the event by sharing flyers and video promotions. Officers began prepping for each event on the Friday night through the weekend until the fundraising event the following Sunday. This fundraiser brings out 150+ people from the University of Florida, the Asian American Student Union community, and the Gainesville community. This also brings out other members of Vietnamese Student Associations (VSAs) from around Florida, such as University of Central Florida and University of South Florida.
A new fundraising event created this past year is called the Jar Wars. This event is a semester long philanthropic event in which officers’ names were randomly placed in 4-5 different jars. People would place money into the jars and at the end of the semester, the respective officers of the jar with the most money raised would complete a dare picked by the audience. This enticed members and non-members alike, even from the other VSAs in Florida! This event was simple, yet exciting. Officers teamed up against each other to make other groups raise more money to avoid doing the dares. This was something for people to look forward to once things slowed down at the end of the semester. It is also very cheap, since all the materials needed were a few jars and paper. This event alone raised more than $300!

What motivated the organization to host the philanthropic program? What efforts were used to motivate and involve the organization’s members?

The Pho Fundraiser event is a tradition that has been held for the past 30+ years, so it is something that everyone in the community expects and looks forward to. It gives a reason for alumni to come back and visit, contributing to the organization once again (by paying for the food). The event is also the largest source of money towards philanthropy. Due to the high demand for volunteers, this event also keeps members involved in things other than just attending general body meetings and events. They can actually be a part of preparing an event, giving insight to what the officer life is like. Members volunteer for their bigs or friends to lessen the burden of preparing the food, and they are provided a free meal in doing so.
The Jar Wars were enticing on its own, as officers turned against one another (friendly competition, not aggression). VSO decided that it was time to bring something new to the table when it came to philanthropy. With all the events that VSO holds, however, it was good to create something not time consuming and not expensive (to increase net profit towards philanthropy). This interactive event had members brainstorm dares and vote on them, something to look forward to as VSO slows down at the end of each semester.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program?

The Pho Fundraiser event is very time- and energy-consuming. The event is an all-day Sunday event, so the officers begin prepping from Friday night and all throughout Saturday. However, we keep upbeat with the great board dynamic, positivity, and persistence.
In the most previous Pho Fundraiser, a man hit a big pot of broth (can make 50+ bowls of pho/bun) with his truck. VSO had backup ingredients in case of irreversible accidents such as this, and created a whole new batch within an hour’s time.
Another problem was upcoming exams. Because officers had to basically dedicate the whole weekend to preparing and selling foods for the Pho Fundraiser, they did not have the time to study those respective weekends. The Officer Conference allowed the officers to schedule their study times around this event, as with every other event. Furthermore, at meetings at least 6 weeks prior to each of the fundraisers, officers were reminded of the upcoming event so that they will begin studying and preparing for the exams. Safe to say, officers had passed each semester.

What was the outcome of the program in terms of goals met, successes, and failures?

We raised more money than we did in previous years from the Pho Fundraiser. The Jar Wars raised over $300 throughout the Fall semester alone!

Posted by Vi So on Monday, May 1, 2017