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The Central Indiana Chapter Explains How to Host a Successful Fundraising Event

Feb 15, 2022

Since 2013, our Central Indiana Chapter has helped its members build connections and strengthen the future of the profession by holding an annual golf outing to fund scholarships for students in safety degree programs at area universities.

Now known as the Future Safety Leaders Annual Classic, this event was shepherded by Jordan Hollingsworth, CSP, CHST, CUSP, CTSC, a professional member of the chapter who has served in several positions on its board. Hollingsworth recalls that the idea for a golf event originated with his love for the game as well as his experiences as a student member.

“In school, I eventually discovered safety, but changing majors left me strapped for cash. I had reached the point at which I couldn’t afford to pay for classes, books and rent at the same time,” he says.

At the time, he was president of Indiana State University’s Student Section but couldn’t qualify for the national scholarship program because his GPA was not high enough. However, he continued his commitment to safety and earned a degree, and in 2010, Hollingsworth was approached to serve on the Central Indiana Chapter board as a student section liaison.

“I enjoyed getting to know the members of the student sections and sharing my hard-earned wisdom with them,” he says. “As I watched some of the most promising student leaders struggle with making ends meet, I remembered how that felt.”

After working with these students, he approached the chapter board to pitch an idea: Hosting a golf outing to fund scholarships for students who demonstrate leadership and an interest in safety.

Vince Plank, CSP, was the Central Indiana Chapter president when Hollingsworth pitched the idea and was intrigued by the new opportunity.

“I was excited to start a new event that could further engage our membership and increase our ability to donate to future safety leaders,” Plank says. “Through the ASSP Foundation, the Central Indiana Chapter had provided a $3,000 scholarship annually for students in Indiana. With the addition of this event, we could raise new dollars and provide additional scholarships.”

Getting Started

The event started out small, Hollingsworth says. The first golf outing funded a single $1,000 scholarship. Eventually, student sections were encouraged to help out with running the event, giving them an opportunity to network with working safety professionals and learn more about the profession.

The event currently brings together nearly 150 golfers and more than 200 volunteers at a public course in the Greater Indianapolis area, Hollingsworth says. In addition, the event has raised more than $128,000, allowing the chapter to award 25 student scholarships.

“While academic performance is a consideration, the selection process concentrates on what the recipients have done for their chapters and communities,” Hollingsworth says.

Engaging Chapter Members

For volunteer leaders who are hoping to host their own chapter events, Plank recommends turning to chapter members. He says that leaders should identify active, engaged members who are willing to volunteer their time and ask them about their hobbies. Plank also advises that when creating events like this, it helps to have a wide range of connections.

Identifying Sponsors

Chapter member Al Capuano, Ed.D., CIT, explains that Hollingsworth pursued company sponsors to take the event to the next level. With the help of company sponsors, the event expanded to include attractions such as door prizes, donuts for breakfast and even an appearance from Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders.

“None of us older guys ever thought of that,” Capuano says. “Jordan seems to come up with new ideas each year to raise money, and this last year’s outing was the best ever in terms of money raised for scholarships.”

The 2021 event raised nearly $20,000 for scholarships, marking significant growth since it started in 2013. Capuano also emphasizes that having a committed group of people who are willing to help is essential.

Making the Event Memorable

Hollingsworth agrees with Capuano, saying that team support is crucial. He says that starting small and growing each year is also key, while learning from each year’s successes and making the event memorable for participants.

For example, Central Indiana Chapter’s golf event has featured popular attractions such as a Bloody Mary bar, food trucks, a compressed-air cannon capable of a 350-yard drive and even a Ladies Professional Golf Association pro who challenged golfers to outplay her.

“You have to make the attendees want to come back each year,” Hollingsworth says.

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