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P2P Pros: EGPAF’s Sydney Van Horn

This is first part in a series of posts where we’ll highlight some of the amazing RallyBound organizations (and their fundraising directors) who will be attending the Peer to Peer Forum on February 24th. 

Our first interview is of Sydney Van Horn from Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Sydney is the director of UP 4 THE FIGHT.

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Sydney went from being a student supporter of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) at her university’s dance marathon event, to running the very program that inspired her career in philanthropy. EGPAF’s mission is the end pediatric HIV/AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs, and Sydney helps inspire advocates across college campuses and community centers through EGPAF’s peer to peer fundraising program. We chatted with Sydney to learn more about her work for the organization.

How did you get into the nonprofit world?

I was a student at UCLA and participated all my four years in the EGPAF’s UP 4 THE FIGHT dance marathon program. I became not just a participant, but in turn a fundraiser for the organization, raising thousands of dollars over my time at UCLA. My participation in the annual event led me into the nonprofit world immediately out of college when I applied to EGPAF to manage the very program that provided me purpose on campus. Now I have the pleasure of managing the UP 4 THE FIGHT peer-to-peer fundraising program across 65 campuses nationwide.

What do you enjoy most about working at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation?

I love working for an organization that I am truly passionate about. I was fundraising for EGPAF in college and now I get the privilege to work with individuals I care about, that are just as inspired by the fight against pediatric HIV/AIDS as I am. As an organization of about 120 people locally and thousands around the globe, I am lucky enough to work on a team of six to raise unrestricted funds and to help grow our P2P program, and in turn fund our programmatic work internationally.

In terms of working with the students at our various campuses, they are the most passionate, knowledgeable, and educated group of people that I know. It has been exciting for me to watch them become strong advocates for a cause they care about, just as I did in college. They are truly wonderful leaders on their respective campuses and they demonstrate daily the passion they have for EGPAF and the ability to lead the program independently. I love witnessing how dance marathon events can change the trajectory of their passion and careers.

What social media channel do you think nonprofits should leverage more in their fundraising strategy?

I just listened to a Peer to Peer Forum webinar and they were talking about how Facebook is increasing its support for the nonprofit world, such as its ability to connect pages with fundraising using the new integrated donation buttons. I think even though Facebook has been around for a decade, a lot of organizations are still trying to figure out how to adapt to the short attention span of the users and how to best engage them where they are at. With that said, I think it is very important to integrate all your social channels into your fundraising campaigns and platform. RallyBound has taken care of that for us and it’s been great.

As for our students, they’re extremely active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and we focus on those for our P2P program. We encourage our students to thank donors on social, share their fundraising pages and announce their creative fundraising strategy; for example, some students will use video to ask for a $20 donation in exchange for dedicating an hour of the dance marathon to them. Organizations can do the same to inspire their donors and fundraisers.

How do you inspire people to fundraise for your organization?

I tell my students, I can teach you how to fundraise, but first let me tell you why. I always want to lead them back to the mission of fighting pediatric HIV/AIDS. We try to show our students the impact they are making. For example, when EGPAF began its international work, there were 1,700 babies newly infected with HIV every single day. Today, there are only 600 new infections everyday. 600 is still a large number, but we want to show the progress we’re making with the student’s help. We have ambassadors that travel and share their story. Making a personal connection with fundraisers allows for just another example of students tangibly making a difference.

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I had the distinct privilege in June 2015 to take the top two student fundraisers from the 2014-2015 season to Tanzania to see their fundraising dollars hard at work. It was a very insightful, exciting experience for them and for myself. They saw firsthand the impact of what they are doing in the U.S. for the mothers, children, and families around the world. Those students, Matt and Emma, are now becoming even stronger advocates for the cause, and have shared their experience with the UP 4 THE FIGHT program and EGPAF donors. With such amazing results, we are excited to bring the 2015-2016 top fundraiser incentive back and hopefully inspire more young advocates to step up their fundraising and support of the organization.

What is your new year’s resolution?

Personally, running my second marathon. But as for our P2P program: starting a new incentive program for students on a lower level to get involved in fundraising, having a successful fundraising season by the end of April, and in turn seeing campus growth with both registrants and fundraising numbers overall. We also just launched a new community events online fundraising platform, where not just university students, but any EGPAF advocate can host their own event right in their community and create personal fundraising pages for EGPAF. This is a really exciting opportunity to expand our community of supporters outside of the college campuses and unite the world in the fight of pediatric HIV/AIDS.

About Sydney: Sydney Van Horn is the Associate Officer of Development at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). She inspires and creates a new generation of young advocates through EGPAF’s UP 4 THE FIGHT collegiate fundraising program and the organization’s newly developed community events program. With over three years working at the organization and seven years as an EGPAF supporter and fundraiser at UCLA, Sydney continues to work and fight with individuals around the globe until no child has AIDS. Sydney currently lives in America’s Charm City: Baltimore, MD.

Come meet us at the Peer to Peer Forum!

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