The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

The Party Fund lets students compete for a business-sponsored party

Having your birthday party sponsored by outside companies isn’t just for celebrities anymore.

With the help of a new nationwide project called The Party Fund, Ellie Jesse, a junior public relations major at UNC, got to celebrate her birthday — without picking up the tab.

The Party Fund, which launched last month, matches party sponsors with students who are willing to participate in companies’ advertising campaigns.

“All I had to do was share a link,” Jesse said. “They are sending me a check for $100.”

The project is a brainchild of recent Harvard graduate Zak Tanjeloff.

“The idea came from the party grants that Harvard gave out when I was there,” Tanjeloff said. “I saw it as an opportunity to replicate that model.”

The Harvard Undergraduate Council previously awarded party grants to students, before the program was disbanded.

Every Wednesday at 11 p.m., The Party Fund unveils the week’s grant competition on its website. Sponsors post various online tasks for students to complete, and the fastest students win the party grants.

Recipients then throw a party, take a picture with the company’s logo, and send it to The Party Fund.

“We want to be able to help college kids enjoy their college experiences,” Tanjeloff said.

Party sponsors include a New England regional brewery and two start-up companies — Ultrinsic and NerdWallet.

“There has been no shortage of sponsors that want to engage the college market in a different way,” Tanjeloff said.

Ultrinsic is a website that allows students to bet on their grades.

NerdWallet, which helps students find a credit card company, sponsored Jesse’s party.

Tim Chen, founder of NerdWallet, said he decided to work with The Party Fund to increase his company’s visibility in social media.

“You can build the greatest app in the world and no one will find out about it,” he said. “This seems to be pretty cost-effective way to increase traffic on Facebook and Twitter.”

Jesse heard about The Party Fund while interning in New York City this summer. When Tanjeloff told her the project was launching in November, she jumped at the chance to get paid to party.

She said she sees the benefit for party sponsors, too.

“A lot of companies are really leveraging college campuses,” she said. “This really makes a lot of sense.”

Contact the State & National Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.