I am currently chairman of the board at my alma mater Holy Cross High School in Bayside, NY. In September 2018, our school expanded its mission and began accepting women (in addition to men). The transition from a single gender school to co-ed has been quite successful.
Our school recently made history through a fortuitous vacation my wife and I took to Italy in the fall of 2018. We were having lunch with friends in northern Italy on Lake Maggiore. I was telling my friends that Holy Cross had just become co-ed and volleyball was one of the first female athletic sports at the school.
The woman with whom we were having lunch said that volleyball is very big in Europe and her niece plays on a club team in their town. As it turns out, her niece’s team was the same age bracket as the new freshman girls at Holy Cross.
I said to our friends “wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow have your girls play our girls?” Well, that idea took shape quickly and we began planning for the Orago Progetto Volleyball Team to travel to New York to compete against our girls!
Plans began in earnest in November 2018 and culminated in a four-team exhibition between Orago Progetto, Italy, Holy Cross, Bayside NY, Archbishop Kellenberg, Uniondale, NY and Monsignor McClancy, East Elmhurst, NY in early September 2019. Holy Cross faculty generously volunteered their time to ensure that the Italian team had a wonderful experience.
The Italian contingent consisted of eleven players, a coach, club president and fifteen parents and siblings of the players. For many, it was their first time in the United States.
The Italians Explore Queens & Manhattan
In addition to the exhibition, we took the Italian contingent to the Queens Museum at the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens and an all-day tour of NYC, including Central Park, Time Square, and the World Trade Center Memorial in lower Manhattan.
As for the volleyball exhibition, the American teams were no match for the Italian team’s experience, and they easily won the exhibition. We were informed by an American volleyball official that this was the first time an international volleyball exhibition was performed in the U.S. by girls at the scholastic level.
The girls from each of the teams bonded instantly, contact information was exchanged and many new friendships were formed. And the icing on the cake was that the event raised $3,000 for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research project.
Plans have already begun for the Holy Cross girls to compete in Italy in 2021!
Takeaways for Your Nonprofit
I share this story to convey the following:
- Think outside the box when considering your nonprofit’s next event.
Don’t feel like you have to follow a formula or stick with the same-old fundraiser formats.
- Empower your board members to introduce unique event & fundraising ideas.
You never know what they’ll come up with!
- It’s not all about the money. Also consider the story.
$3,000 may not be a lot of funds raised, but the content that results from an event like this can be used for many years to draw people to your mission.
- Relationships and partnerships are invaluable.