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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2021 Development Director Aidan Cliff

Name: Aidan Cliff
Major: Finance

Past THON Experience 

THON 2019 – DAR Committee Member 
THON 2020 – DAR Development Captain 

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself 

I am a dual citizen of the United States and United Kingdom.

What made you want to apply for the Development Director position for THON 2021? 

I have been coming to THON for the majority of my life. My cousin, Lauren, is a Four Diamonds child and she is here today largely because of the work that staff at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, Four Diamonds, and thousands of student volunteers put in each year to raise money For The Kids®.

Since I can remember, I knew that I wanted to come to Penn State to be a part of the magic that is THON. This past year as a captain on Development, I loved the work I was able to do and knew that I wanted to continue making an impact in the THON community as a director. 

What are your responsibilities as the Development Director? 

Overall, the Development committee oversees relations with thousands of corporate and individual donors all across the country. Each year, we maintain relationships with our corporate sponsors, help to engage and steward individual donors everywhere, and create new, unique ways for students and THON supporters to fundraise on behalf of THON.

As the Development Director, I will maintain preexisting relationships with past corporate sponsors, help to create new opportunities for more corporate partnerships, and oversee a committee of captains working on all different aspects of THON’s fundraising. Additionally, this role gives me the opportunity to work extensively with external stakeholders of THON and gives me the opportunity to share our mission with new people every year.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past? 

Obviously, with a virtual environment taking over THON, our biggest difference has come with the engagement we have with our corporate sponsors. Johnson & Johnson is an example – we typically do in-person event for Giving Tuesday but this year we are working to move it to a virtual space. Additionally, we were able to host our first ever THON Trivia Night with Microsoft and the Committee Fundraising Challenge with KCF Technologies. It has been challenging, but also really rewarding to work with our sponsors to come up with new, creative partnerships.  

What makes the Development Committee so cool, fun, and/or important? 

The Development Committee is one of the few committees that works with completely external stakeholders to THON (i.e. non-students, large companies, etc). The work we do is incredibly important to the success of THON – we would not be successful without the help of thousands of donors around the world committed to our mission. The reason I love Development is because we get to maintain these relationships that we have previously made, as well as continue to create new ones every year.  

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2020? 

  • Creative Adaptations to pre-existing partnerships with corporate sponsors  
  • Development of new partnerships within a virtual environment that can be used for THON 2021 and beyond 
  • Increase individual donor retention through increased stewardship and better reporting of impacts made by our donors 
  • Continue the growth of our mission to more donors despite the challenges we face this year 

Why do you THON? 

I THON for my family and for all of the other families battling childhood cancer. We have made incredible strides through our work at THON and Four Diamonds, but we aren’t finished yet.  

What’s your favorite THON memory? 

It’s hard to limit this question down to one because you get to have so many special moments each and every year at THON. One that does stick out to me, though, is from the first THON I remember attending – THON 2011. I was there supporting my cousin, Lauren, who was a Four Diamonds child but was in her senior year at Penn State and was dancing in THON.

Not only did we have the chance to celebrate her and the incredible journey she had been on to make it to that point, but I got to really experience the magic that comes with THON Weekend for the first time.  

My brother and I, both healthy, happy kids, were able to spend time with this excited, energetic group of college kids who just wanted to hang out with us. That feeling of being young and the center of attention for all of these college kids were so special. Even if you don’t spend time with families during THON Weekend, we as college students create that atmosphere that makes all people (most especially kids) feel welcome and loved.

We get to create that safe space for all kids to thrive and forget about anything that is going on in their life, cancer or not. Looking back on that memory now, I am able to understand the magic that all students at Penn State get to create for those younger than us during THON weekend and I really cherish that moment.  

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why? 

Pterodactyl because a flying dinosaur is really, really cool.

 

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a junior majoring in English and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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