Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton: stuff the bus’ campaign.

Exhibited by
GregRobin Smith.
September 05, 2011
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This is a great example of how a little bit of innovation and lots of organisation can make a fundraising event appeal to the whole community. By making their ‘stuff the bus’ event fun and above all easy, the Chi Psi Fraternity and the University of Washington have ensured year-upon-year success.

Summary / objectives

Stuff the bus is an annual community fundraising event that is hosted by the Chi Psi Fraternity and The Daily, the University of Washington’s newspaper. The concept is simple. One weekend each year, they hold an annual food drive in the car parks of local supermarkets. Members of the public are encouraged to give both food and cash donations that are given to a local charity: Food Lifeline.


In 2007, Chi Psi Fraternity brothers Peter Fantham and Mitch Colleran wanted to increase philanthropic efforts within the campus of the University of Washington. Previous fundraising efforts had been based on a mutual exchange of ‘if you buy my cookies then I’ll buy your raffle tickets’. While these activities raised money for excellent causes, they didn’t do much for inspiring and increasing community involvement.

Fantham and Colleran decided to run an annual 'stuff the bus' event in aid of Food Lifeline, whose mission is to end hunger in western Washington by involving communities and mobilising resources. Each year since, they have coordinated their efforts with a large local grocery chain, QFC, who allow them to park University of Washington shuttle buses in their car parks on the selected weekend. Fraternity members ask local shoppers to donate food or cash to the cause. The food donations are then stored on the buses and members of the fraternity arrange further transport and handling.

Special characteristics

One hundred per cent of all the donations go to Food Lifeline. The Chi Psi Fraternity cover costs of t-shirts and promotional materials. They have also managed to convince the bus company to pay the costs of the fuel and the drivers’ over-time.

Influence / impact

In their first year, the stuff the bus event raised enough food and cash donations to equal 11,633 meals. They have achieved a steady increase in donations over the years. In their second year, they raised $29,000 and in the past four years, over 100,000 meals have been donated in total.

The event received the most outstanding philanthropy award by the Inter-Fraternity Council at their 2009 awards.


There aren’t many fundraising events or campaigns that can promise that 100 per cent of your donation will go directly to the cause. The stuff the bus event is impressive both because it has managed to cover all of its costs and because it also manages to attract a wide audience and has achieved steadily increasing success.