COURTESY ARJUN GUPTA From left: Liam Foskett (SFS ’18), Eric Chen (SFS ’18), Mollie Coyle  (COL ’17), Andrew Frank (COL ’17), Arjun Gupta (COL ’17), Mara Goby (COL ’16) and Tithi Patel (SFS ’18).
COURTESY ARJUN GUPTA
From left: Liam Foskett (SFS ’18), Eric Chen (SFS ’18), Mollie Coyle (COL ’17), Andrew Frank (COL ’17), Arjun Gupta (COL ’17), Mara Goby (COL ’16) and Tithi Patel (SFS ’18).

Georgetown organization founder Arjun Gupta (COL ’17) and member James McLoughlin (MSB ’17) open up about ‘Fundraisr,’ which provides pro bono services to non-profits in Washington D.C. Both Gupta and McLoughlin share a passion for social justice issues and have been working on Fundraisr since the fall semester in the hopes of making a positive impact in the D.C. community, one partner at a time. They sat down with The Hoya this week to discuss the success, growing pains and future goals of Fundraisr.

What inspired you to start Fundraisr?

Arjun Gupta (COL ’17): The idea for the organization comes from the idea that in D.C. there are more nonprofits per capita than any other city in the country, and there is huge disparity between where we are at Georgetown and across the river. When you talk to most nonprofits they would tell you that fundraising is the hardest thing that they do. A lot of nonprofits don’t have the money and people to focus on really big marketing campaigns. They aren’t able to hire companies to do it for them because of money reasons. We saw that we are Georgetown students — we have time, we are creative and we try to fill a role by working with these smaller organizations pro bono on their fundraising strategies.

How do you compensate for your undergraduate status in terms of your credibility and qualifications?

Gupta: We’re pro bono, and the thing that most organizations love is that we’re free help. Fundraising today is very centered on social media and technology, and the one thing we can bring to the table is this almost innate knowledge of how to use social media and the ability to have a faster learning curve. A lot of the people who run these organizations never grew up with and have never extensively used social media. We’re creative, passionate students.

Fundraisr isn’t part of the Student Activities Commission and doesn’t seek to be recognized by the university. Why is this?

Gupta: We’re in the process of applying for non-profit status. This is really important for our credibility because it shows that we aren’t just a club on campus, which is how people generally perceive us and is something that we don’t necessarily want to be perceived as. We are a group of students and we do a lot of things that clubs do — we have fun together — but in our professional environment we want to be seen as people who do the job well. Nonprofit status is definitely something that improves that and will help us in the long term. Getting to be a part of SAC is a long, tedious process, and in the short term we’ve really tried to focus on growing the organization as opposed to just focusing on becoming part of SAC, and I don’t really see a lot of the benefits of it. We’re able to do a lot on campus — meet in rooms, book rooms, plan events — without the help of SAC.

Is there an example of a project you’ve done or a connection you’ve made this past semester that you’re proud of or want to speak about?

James McLoughlin (MSB ’17): We organized ice skating events two weeks in a row on Thursday nights down at the Georgetown Waterfront. We partnered with the ice skating rink there and sold discounted tickets — tickets are $15 there and we sold them for $12, and $3 of the $12 went to FAN D.C. It was a good way to raise money, and we raised over $800.

Gupta: Another example was Giving Tuesday, which happens the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. It’s a big day for people to donate to non-profits, and we ran a campaign for FAN around Giving Tuesday. We had a crowd-funding campaign, ran all their social media; we were able to do all of that for them.

For students who are interested and want to get involved, how should they go about doing that?

McLoughlin: We just finished our hiring process so we’re not looking for any more new people this semester, but if they have any interest they can email us at info@fundraisrdc.org. Or they can visit our website, fundraisrdc.org, or our Facebook page.

Gupta: We’re going to go through another hiring process in the fall and what we’re really looking for is people who are creative and passionate.

Is there anything else that you want to add or something I haven’t asked you that you think is important?

Gupta: The goal of our organization is not to raise money for these non-profits — that’s just the avenue through which we do it. Our goal is to make sure these nonprofits make a bigger impact in the community. At the end of the day, we’ve succeeded if the nonprofit we’re working with succeeds, and that’s a big measure of success as opposed to just the amount of money raised.

McLoughlin: We aren’t just focused on short-term fundraising profits; we also want to create a sustainable fundraising base. It doesn’t really make much sense to get them X amount of dollars this year and then leave them back at square one. Our goal is to change the way they fundraise and give them an easy platform to use so that they can do it for years to come.

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