PRISM wins Giving Day
March 14, 2022
Giving Day 2022 was a record-breaking success, bringing over 15,000 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends together to raise over $8.4 million in support of Virginia Tech. Setting the pace for the university was the Pamplin College of Business, which led all colleges and units in unique donors – over 2,300 – and funds raised – over $2.5 million.
While Pamplin’s Giving Day success would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors, one group of students and alumni set themselves apart from the rest – Pamplin ReInventing Social Media Program, or PRISM.
PRISM led all Pamplin departments, programs, and initiatives in unique donors, finishing Giving Day with 527, almost double the next closest Pamplin unit. As a reward for finishing number one in the Pamplin Leaderboard Challenge, PRISM was awarded an additional $20,000 in funds.
Founded in 2010, PRISM is a student-run, faculty-led interdisciplinary ad agency. The only group of its kind at Virginia Tech, PRISM is “run by the next generation of creatives, strategists, analysts, and marketing mavens,” also known as PRISMites. Though a student organization, PRISM is a comprehensive marketing and creative agency that serves a multitude of real-world clients under the leadership of faculty advisor and founder, Donna Wertalik.
So how did this collection of “quirky members,” as their website describes them, manage to top every other Pamplin unit on the biggest Giving Day in Virginia Tech’s history? Culture, with a dose of planning.
“I think the main reason that PRISM was so successful is due to our organization’s culture,” said Emily Bookstaver (MKT ’24), a PRISM account manager. “PRISM is unique in the fact that it provides students with real-world experiences, but also is such a connected group of members who genuinely care for the organization and each other. These characteristics are what allows a group with around 60 active members to receive more than eight times that number in donors.”
“We had a three-prong strategy – plan ahead, incentivize members, and go beyond the goal,” added Wertalik. “It took a village, but early planning, education about giving back, and reaching out to first time donors was essential.”
She continued, “In the end, we had one member receive 98 donations under her name! She was driven by the competition itself, her pride for Pamplin, and a scholarship incentive.”
Though PRISM is just over a decade old, it already has a strong core of alumni willing to step up in support of the agency.
“As alumni, we remember all the hard work and engaging opportunities earned in PRISM,” said Michael Vitak (MKT ’17), PRISM alumni advisor. “For all of us, our time in PRISM fundamentally shaped our university experience and led to a career upon graduating. We all see the contributions on Giving Day as a way to ensure that those real-world experiences continue to be offered to the new cohort of students.”
Abby Stewart (BIT ’23), is a member of that new cohort of students Vitak referred to. According to Stewart, who serves as director of Virginia Tech business with PRISM, the idea of giving back to an organization that has given them so much is what made the difference.
“PRISM has given so much to me which made it especially important to give back to the organization this year. Our members are truly passionate about their work which made reaching out to fellow Hokies, family members, and friends that much easier.”