Raising funds for your political organization on campus can be tough. Even if you are an “officially recognized” campus club, universities often refuse to provide funding to partisan organizations, even if they provide money to most student groups. Add to this the fact that most college students don’t have much money to spend on campus activities, and it soon becomes clear that if you’re going to succeed, you’ll have to be creative in your fundraising efforts:
1. Membership Levels
It generally isn’t a good idea to require your members to pay dues to join your group. Doing so will greatly reduce the number of students who will participate. Instead, make “regular” membership free, but offer another level of membership that requires dues. For example, you could establish the “Executive Committee,” and offer special perks to anyone who joins this level such as a V.I.P reception at all organization-sponsored events. Charge fifteen or twenty-five dollars (or whatever seems appropriate) and encourage your “regular” members to join.
2. Party Networking
Contact the leadership of your local political parties (township, city, county, etc…) and let them know about your organization and planned activities. Offer to help them campaign on campus, provide volunteers, etc. or assist in whatever way possible. Let the party know about the good work that you do, and ask them to support you with a financial contribution. Often, the party won’t be eager to assist you with cash so, as a backup, ask for other help. You could ask to put a free add in the party newsletter, for a copy of some party membership lists, or to speak at the next party-wide meeting. Build a fundraising network of local supporters.
3. Offer Sponsorships
This idea goes hand in hand with the previous two. Once you have gathered a list of prospective (non-student) supporters in the local community, set up a way for them to “sponsor” your organization. Create an Advisory Board, Campus Republican or Democratic Committee, or other group, and invite successful party members in the area to contribute and join. Invite these supporters to at least a few of the events your organization plans throughout the year.
4. Hold an Event
Events are a favorite way for campus organizations to raise funds. Give your event a political twist by sponsoring an election night party, a political debate, a campaign training seminar, or a road-trip to the state capital. Planning a successful event takes time though, so be sure to start planning well in advance.
5. Use an Issue
Is the university planning to de-privatize the school cafeteria? Is your political organization against that move? Use that issue to build awareness of your group and goals, swell your ranks, and raise funds. Let it be known that your group is “the” group spearheading opposition to the university’s move. Sell t-shirts that say, “Keep your hands off our food!” Set up booths offering information and taking contributions. Go door to door asking for support. Call alumni and tell them what’s going on, asking for a contribution. You oppose the university’s decision, but you need money to get the word out. Ask for it.
Fundraising isn’t easy, especially on a college campus. But with a little creativity and persistence, your political group will be able to garner the resources you need to spread your message campus-wide.