Most Outstanding Philanthropic Program: University of Georgia
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.
Night in Saigon 14: Don’t You Forget About Me was held on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at Tate Grand Hall. They were approximately 100 volunteers and performers, and 950 total attendees (including sponsors and esteemed guests). As one of the largest culture shows in the Southeast region, Night in Saigon attracts people from not only Athens and Atlanta, but from across the continent. Night in Saigon 14 had the pleasure of hosting members of UVSASE, UNAVSA, and other neighboring regions.
Through skits, dances, songs, and more, Night in Saigon is a Vietnamese culture show dedicated to promoting the Vietnamese culture and heritage to the audience. Our goals are not only to educate those who are interested in learning more of the culture, but to raise awareness of the ever-changing Vietnamese-American identity among the audience members. Our objectives are to preserve and promote Vietnamese culture, identify and address issues impacting the Vietnamese community, provide opportunities for local businesses to promote their products and services to the Vietnamese-American community of Athens, raise funds to support our UNAVSA’s CPP, bring together Vietnamese youth, and provide them with opportunities for leadership development and community service.
Due to limited resources provided by UGA, we had to fundraise through the Vietnamese American community and UGA campus community as well as gather a lot of sponsors. Fundraising wise, we focused on voter registration by winning a phone banking contest and being the most politically involved VSA around the time of the presidential election. In sponsorships, we reached out to local Vietnamese businesses as well as Athens businesses and were able to gather over $11,000 in sponsorship money.
Our marketing techniques involved a large social media presence with Facebook profile picture frames, a consistently updated Facebook event page, and promotional videos. We also posted flyers around campus and local restaurants as well as had our members paint an advertisement on the street.
Evaluations and decisions were made on a voting system amongst directors and executive board members. Afterwards, we released an evaluation form to the public and held an EBoard meeting to discuss pros and deltas.
What motivated the organization to host the philanthropic program? What efforts were used to motivate and involve the organization’s members?
Night in Saigon is a program that encompasses all four of our main pillars: Friendship (through the long hours spent together planning, preparing, and executing the show), Community (connecting the Southeast region and connection the adult Vietnamese American community with the young Vietnamese American community), Culture (showcasing the beauty of the Vietnamese culture as well as the talents of our members), and Leadership (providing the opportunity for EBoard and directors to plan the show and general body members to participate by coordinating, choreographing, performing, planning, etc.).
With more and more money being raised for the UNAVSA CPP each year, we want to be able to contribute to that number and also increase the number we raise every year. We believe that the profits from Night in Saigon will make a difference with the Pacific Links Foundation and truly believe that they’re a worthy cause to donate to, as is any UNAVSA CPP.
The good thing about our organization’s members is that they don’t need too much motivation or incentive because they genuinely love Night in Saigon and VSA. However, I believe the main motivating factor for members is the friendships and bonds they form during the process as well as the happiness they feel when it finally all comes together the night of the show. When months of preparation come to light in one night, and that’s truly something amazing to witness.
How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program? What was the outcome of the program in terms of goals met, successes, and failures?
As an organization, we have overcome obstacles both internally and externally during the planning process. Internally, we have experienced disagreements between board members that resulted in a need for practicing conflict resolution. We had to use everything we’ve learned through multiple leadership conferences to understand one another and come to a point where we could not only work together, but be friends with each other. These internal conflicts tested our communication skills and professional behavior, but we came out of it stronger than ever. Externally, we were approached with the news of our would-be Night in Saigon headliner facing sexual misconduct allegations. In order to extract ourselves from his reputation, we had to make the decision to cancel his act even if it meant facing legal problems because we felt we could not bring someone to our event that did not align with our values. During the show, we did face the issue of starting behind schedule as we still had a long line at the check-in table when the show was supposed to start. We overcame this by making sure our stage crew knew to make transitions go smoothly and to limit any further delays.
In addition to raising funds for the Pacific Links Foundation, we also raise awareness for them by highlighting their efforts in a five minute segment on stage during Night in Saigon as well as having a dedicated page to them in our program booklet. Additionally, we raised more funds by having different gifts to raffle off. Each raffle ticket cost a dollar, and entered them into the raffle for a prize of their choice ranging from VSA merchandise to classic Vietnamese snacks and a signed book of “The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui.
As a result of Night in Saigon 14, we exceeded both ticket sales and sponsorship goals. We surpassed our goal of $8500 ending up with over $11000 in sponsorship. In addition, with our sold out show, we collected nearly $8000 in ticket sales, exceeding our goal of $6500. We ended up with a profit of $14000, approximately doubled the year before, and the majority of that money will go towards Pacific Links Foundation (leads counter-trafficking efforts at the frontiers of Vietnam by increasing access to education, providing shelter, and enabling economic opportunities) and local non-profit organizations that promote and encourage professional and leadership development of young leaders. Following budgeting and organization expenses, we will be donating $6000 to Pacific Links Foundation this year, which is $1500 more than last year.