Penn State Thon, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and its sole beneficiary, Four Diamonds, have picked Allen & Gerritsen as their AOR.
The agency won the annual contract in April, following an RFP that invited 10 agencies to pitch. A&G will work with the two organizations to expand their national footprint and brand recognition through targeted PR and influencer campaigns.
The partnership includes an educational curriculum in which A&G will teach Thon student volunteers about PR through workshops and monthly development meetings.
"One of the unique things about Thon's leadership is that it turns over year-over-year, but we're excited to have someone as constant as A&G, especially in the public relations industry, to help with that transition and teach our student volunteers," said Kate Colgan, a Penn State University student and Thon executive director.
A&G is also donating an additional third of the six-figure contract toward more professional services as a commitment to fighting childhood cancer, which is the focus of Four Diamonds' work.
This is the first time Thon and Four Diamonds have collaboratively looked for an AOR. The two organizations decided to bring on an agency partner with expertise building national brands and the right energy for supporting the nonprofit's work, according to Kelly Walker, communications manager at Four Diamonds.
"We were looking for an agency that had a strong track record of success in a variety of industries and clients," Walker said. "We love the out-of-the-box thinking they had to share because we're always looking for unique ways to share the story of Thon and Four Diamonds."
A&G supervisor Dan Pettine is leading a team of four staffers on the business and collaborating with Walker and Thon volunteers. Pettine is a PSU and Thon alumnus.
Thon and Four Diamonds' year-long fundraising efforts culminate with a 46-hour, no sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon held annually at Penn State's University Park campus. Because of COVID-19, last year's dance marathon was a 46-hour virtual event, streamed across the country. A&G's first task will be incorporating virtual and social media elements into fundraising efforts to connect with Penn State students and alumni on a global scale.
"Last year taught us that Thon really doesn't have the footprint that we thought it does that can reach a lot of parts of the country and really worldwide," Walker said. "We're looking forward to this year to make our events more inclusive and accessible to people from all over."
THON previously worked with Finn Partners.
"It was an absolute pleasure working with the students at Thon over a six-year period. Our collaboration saw their funding increase steadily every year, as we supported them in transitioning from traditional fundraising strategies, such as 'canning' and local events, to a digitally focused model," said David Lieberson, partner for CSR and social impact at Finn Partners. "I wish them all the best in their future endeavors, and while I won't be there in person this year, I will be tuning in to the 46-hour dance-a-thon live stream for years to come."