Financing Your Chapter

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So, you have started a SEDS Chapter. Everyone is eager to start building cool stuff or just hanging out with other space nerds. But there is one thing in the way. You have no funds. Building Rockets, Cube Satellites, Weather Balloons, and all the other engineering projects that SEDS Chapters participate in cost money. Not only that, but to keep everyone interested, social meetings also cost money for food, technical equipment, speakers, travel fees, and everything else that comes with just having a club. There are 3 major contributors to local chapters:

  • University
  • Companies
  • SEDS Chapter Grants

The following sections will describe how to take advantage of these resources as well as show templates that have worked in the past for requesting for funds.

Requesting Money from your University

Universities support active organizations that bring recognition and prestige to the institution. Every project that your chapter does, every conference your chapter networks at, and every event that your chapter puts on raises the awareness and the ability of the students of your University. The Universities appreciate and will support clubs and chapters that execute the above well. The more ideas that can get your university popular and have more people talking about your club, the better the chances are that the university will be willing to support your chapter. There are typically a couple ways to ask your university for money being either some club organization that runs and organizes all the clubs on campus or from departments that would have an interest in the projects and events being run by the club.

Many Universities also have some form of club organization that has grants and scholarships that can increase the club budget. These scholarships and grants are mostly granted to organizations that positively impact the student life on campus either by providing a community of some sort or by offering skills that the students of the university would want to take advantage of and learn. Departments will typically only support groups that specifically impact the educational experience of the field of the specific department that you have contacted. The one thing that no matter who you ask money for that must be stated when requesting funds is SPECIFICS.

Your chapter should have clearly defined goals and missions so that everyone can know exactly what your club is and how it will impact the interests of the organization’s or department’s for the students. They will also want to know specifically what you plan on spending the money on, and how much the total cost probably will be. You are more likely to attain funds for a conference saying:

  • “I would like funds to the SpaveVision 2019 conference put on by SEDS USA to present the research on space exploration that has been done here on campus through our rocket competitions in order to further the opportunities and directions we can go into the future with our research as well as showcase the university’s hard work. The conference flights cost $XXX and we would like to stay in this hotel that costs $XXX. We currently do not have the total funds however and are requesting funds for the flight costs.”

Compared to:

  • “I am requesting funds to a conference.”

Key takeaways with university funding:

  • Be Specific
  • Be Active

The more active you are, the more credible you are. The more specific you are, the safer the organization will feel investing into your chapter. That is what you need the organization to think, this is a safe guaranteed investment that aligns with my goals and interests.

Company Aid - How to Start

Companies, just like universities, want to spend their money into safe investments. The biggest differences between universities and companies is the goal of the organization. Companies want to hire established students and they want students to know about their company to apply. The more people that know about their company as well, is more future clients. With this being said, companies need to know that the sponsorships they give, advertises to the top students. This is different from universities in that the goals of the universities is to make themselves look better by providing students with opportunities.

So, the goal of companies is different. The advertisement to them is also different. Often times, companies want to see more options into what they can purchase. I would recommend developing a tiered sponsorship plan which lists benefits of donating increasing amounts of funds to the club. The tiers should each also list specifically how you plan on advertising and getting your students to know about the existence of the company and what they are doing. It could be things such as:

  • Designing your project with the colors and logo of the company integrated into the aesthetic
  • Social media posts thanking the company
  • Logo placement in your chapters meetings
  • Clothing attire
  • Anything that will get other students specifically to see the company name

Companies and universities both want to support active clubs. Companies will also be looking for a breakdown of the expenses that the chapter plans to have, or has had in the past in order to get an idea of your chapters needs. They want to know how their money will be spent to help create established engineers giving the company a better reputation at the university they are supporting. The company wants to have strong relationships that can also continue over time in order to build their opportunities in your chapter and on your campus. With that being said, another big part of company sponsorship is maintained communication. Updating the sponsor with how well your projects are going is a good way to keep up strong relations for future sponsorships from the company.

SEDS Chapter Grants