Student organizations often don’t realize all the different methods they can raise money for events… and bake sales isn’t one of them! Here’s a quick list of resources to keep in mind when planning your chapter’s budget:
‘Fundraising for Freedom,’ by YAL’s David Hoyt
Take a look at this fundraising-focused edition of YAL’s Winning on Principle newsletter to develop a basic understanding of successful fundraising technique.
Your University’s Student Government
Student governments often have control over distributing money collected in the form of student activity fees. A large portion of these fees are spent bringing in big name speakers and performers to campus. Another large portion is often taken by liberal groups on campus to waste on parties and free food to celebrate “multiculturalism.” What you can do is demand your “fair share” of the loot. There is usually an official application process each year for student organizations to apply for funds. If you are sure to follow all of the rules, you will usually be able to secure minimal funding, especially at a public university. If possible, also consider having some of your members run for a student government position that oversees the organization funding process to ensure that the system is fair.
Your University’s Lectures Committee
Some universities have set up committees composed of students and/or faculty to decide which speakers to bring to campus. These committees often have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend each year. You can have a say in the process by having members run for committee positions. You may also be able to convince them to cosponsor an event to bring a libertarian/conservative speaker to campus.
Your University’s Political Science/Philosophy/Economics Departments
If your university has sympathetic professors in these departments, consider approaching the department heads and asking for the department to cosponsor an educational event on their subject of expertise.
Students For Liberty
Students for Liberty provides protest grants of $100-$500 to cover the cost of activism events. Learn more here.
Alumni support can often be your most reliable source of help. Take time to build up a core list of alumni willing to dedicate their time and even their money to help your chapter grow. Start by seeing if there are lists of old members who have since graduated. Sometimes there are old Facebook pages or groups for defunct conservative groups at your university. Compile an contact list and try to find their address using yellow pages. Direct mail is often more effective than email, but if you can’t get their address or phone number, email is still your best shot. Also, see if your university has an alumni relations office to help find older alumni. Alumni from both the College Libertarians and College Republicans may find your chapter to be something they’d like to help out.
Campaign for Liberty
C4L is a great resource for volunteers and audience members to come to your speaking events. Make sure you get in contact with your local C4L group and try to see if they’ll let you send an email out to their listserv. Often, they’ll be so happy to see young people actually caring about politics that they will bend over backwards to help.
Liberty on the Rocks
Liberty on the Rocks is an organization similar to C4L which holds social meetings at local restaurants/bars usually once a month. It’s a great networking opportunity and a chance to get to know your local libertarian/conservatives better.
Local Small Businesses
You’d be surprised how frustrated some small business owners are about the local regulations hurting their business. They’d never tell their average customer this, but if you take the time to know local small business owners, they will spill all their complaints to you. Once they know that they’ve got a local group that could help lobby for them, you’ve got another potential donor.
Tips on Direct Mail
- Make it colorful & attractive
- Don’t be afraid to use hypoallergenic perfume
- Long letters (usually 3-5 pages)
- Include a postscript
Tips on Direct Solicitation
- Don’t be afraid to ask
- Ask for double what you think you can get