The Joys (and Challenges) of Planning a Fundraising Campaign

Since returning from spring break, my main project has been planning a Spirit fundraising campaign in connection with :Lexicon to benefit the summer writing camp. Spirit is Duquesne University’s crowdfunding platform for student organizations, and it is an awesome tool for any organization within the university that is seeking financial support from outside sources. I decided to pursue creating a fundraising campaign for the camp after reflecting on the high cost of attendance for students and the inaccessibility to programs like ours. Within the first couple weeks of the application period, I had numerous parents asking about scholarships and expressing regret at the fact they would be unable to afford to send their teen to camp. I, personally, believe in the accessibility of education to all populations, and it saddens me that the high costs of most summer camps exclude those who do not come from places of privilege. I want our camp to respond to this issue and take an active stake in combating it.

Three years ago, the past camp coordinator and editor-in-chief of :Lexicon ran a successful Spirit campaign in which enough money for one full-tuition scholarship was raised. By looking to that campaign for inspiration, the process for executing the campaign has already been carved for me. I hope, that by running another Spirit campaign, we will be able to offer scholarships for the upcoming camp. Our goal for the campaign is $1,000. If we achieve this goal, we will be able to provide one full scholarship, two half scholarships, and still have money left over to help lower the overall cost of hosting the camp.

Planning the campaign, so far, has relied heavily on coordination with :Lexicon. :Lexicon has provided a strong team for promoting the campaign across social media. By connecting to the editorial staff who are all very committed to promoting creative writing, we are able to use the already well-established group as our foundation. Student involvement is something that will be key in raising attention across all platforms. The current editor-in-chief, Victoria Wilson, has aided greatly in this process of planning and coordinating. We both agreed that the campaign will be beneficial to both organizations, and by working together, we are able to promote unity between two important English department projects.

Upon looking at the past campaign, I constructed different donation levels to help personalize the act of donating. The levels range from $5 donations which would cover a snack for one day to $475 donations to cover a full scholarship. There are levels everywhere in between, and by strategically personalizing the amounts, I hope to draw in more donors. In fiction workshops, I learned we connect better to individuals than to vague concepts. The more specific the details, the more likely the reader will be invested in the story. It is the same with fundraising. By framing donating as a personal tie to the camp, it should help to draw in more potential donors. 

Another challenge we have faced with the campaign was deciding on our main target audience. A crucial part of writing is knowing your intended audience and tailoring your piece to resonate with this group. With fundraising, you do not want your audience to be too small as you then risk losing potential money. However, if your audience is too large, you also run the risk of setting impossible standards. When I started contemplating which groups to target and how to tailor posts to each group, I thought of the task similarly to how I think of the audience in relation to my writing. This proved successful at placing the daunting task into perspective, and the outcome was a decision to target three main groups: English or journalism program alumni, current students in liberal arts programs, and alumni who were involved with :Lexicon. Although the first two groups are larger in numbers, they both establish a clear bond to writing and the arts. Alumni likely are employed and willing to give back or at least share the campaign with others. Current students have connections to family members and other potential donors. The smaller group of alumni who were involved with :Lexicon during their academic career leaves us with a guaranteed group of supporters. In executing involvement with all three groups, I plan to start by targeting alumni of :Lexicon, then expanding to current students, and then to general alumni. By starting with an intimate group and growing our involvement, we will be able to keep our momentum going throughout the month-long duration of the program!

The campaign is set to take off in April, and I am very excited to watch it grow over the next couple weeks. There is still a lot to be done in the meantime, but it will all be worth it if we can afford to send even one more hopeful student to camp!

                                                                                                          Catherine Evans

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