February 27, 2013

Duff Ball-Inspired Alumni Fundraiser Raises About $40K

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More than 400 young alumni will gather in New York City this Saturday for the sold out, black tie-optional, red tie-encouraged Alumni Duff Ball-New York City — a fundraising event modeled after Cornell’s annual Duff Ball Senior Prom that kicks off Senior Week.

All alumni who graduated between 2003 and 2012 were invited to the alumni event, which is planned to be held at the Bowery Hotel on March 2, according to Patrick Burns ’09, associate director of Young Alumni Programs.

Unlike the on-campus Duff Ball — a fundraiser that benefits the United Way of Tompkins County — the alumni event will support the Student and Academic Services Fund at Cornell, which aims to promote and sustain a diverse living and learning environment at Cornell, according to its website.

Jonathan Feldman ’08, who started Duff Ball on campus in 2008 and organized the Steering Committee of young alumni for the event, said he decided to pitch the idea of a similar alumni event to Burns and Margaux Neiderbach ’99, director of Young Alumni Programs.

Burns said the idea for an alumni Duff Ball was in line with the goals of Young Alumni Programs, aiming to increase the engagement of young alumni who have graduated in the last 10 years with their alma mater.

After receiving positive reaction from alumni, the event will raise more than $40,000 for the SASF, according to Chloe Gatta ’12, marketing and communications chair for the event, who is also The Sun’s former business manager. Because of the high demand for tickets, the event’s organizers sold an extra 30 tickets in addition to the originally-planned 400, she said.

“From an alumni perspective, we feel so fortunate to have a sold out event the week before,” Gatta said. “We are raising over $40,000 for the University from this event. I am incredibly honored to help raise that much money for Cornell.”

The student chairs of the undergraduate Duff Ball use social media outlets — such as promotional videos and Facebook events — to promote the event on campus. The Steering Committee for the New York City event used similar tactics to promote the event to alumni, according to Gatta.

“We made a video this year as a step to incorporate aspects of the undergraduate Duff Ball experience into the alumni experience,” Gatta said. “We are trying to make this event as integrated into social media as possible, so if you are not at the event you can still be a part of it.”

The alumni event’s YouTube video features short clips taken from each year’s undergraduate Duff Ball promotional video, ending with a message saying “the tradition you built, is all grown up,” according to Feldman.

According to Gatta, the organizers chose New York City as the location for the alumni event due to the large alumni base in the city.

“In the future, we hopefully will see events like this in other cities to get students and young alums involved who do not live in New York,” she said.

Gatta said she that she is looking forward to the event as a time to get together and reconnect with friends and other young alumni.

“Once you graduate, you realize that there are far fewer opportunities to see your friends from Cornell in a Cornell setting,” she said. “And I can’t wait to be able to see not only the people I graduated with, but also other alumni that I have not been able to see.”

According to Feldman, the event will feature food, drink, music and brief remarks from Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94, vice president for student and academic services, and Bob Harrison ’76, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. Feldman said that Kent Hubble ’67, dean of students, and other University trustees will also be in attendance.

Original Author: Jonathan Swartz