Community colleges, which first emerged in New England in the 1880s and have since spread throughout the country, gave students the opportunity to gain job training or an affordable pathway to a four-year university degree. They have become a vital tool for students and a focal point of the community they serve. Local residents can take classes, attend plays and other cultural events, and even come together to fundraise for a great cause.
Fundraising at community colleges provides students and other participants with the opportunity to gain experience planning an event and raising money, while also helping out a worthy cause. Before you plan your own event read Seven Simple Tips for Hosting a Successful Fundraising Event.
Six Best-in-Class Fundraising Ideas
1. Host an On-Campus Celebration
Engage neighbors, members of your campus community and town leaders by inviting them to a fundraising event. If your college has a major anniversary coming up, use it as an opportunity to host a “welcome back” event similar to homecoming weekends at state universities. Few community colleges have the fundraising departments and resources in place that their four-year counterparts enjoy, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t reach out to potential donors. Use social media to get in touch with former students, and take advantage of special occasions, especially if they relate to local history or that of your school, to host a festival, brunch or other celebration. At the event, set up a donation station with your campaign page on a laptop and consider asking for a donation to your campaign as the entrance fee to the event.
2. Reach Out to the Community and Former Students
Community colleges serve a community, so engage that community in your efforts! Many schools allow senior citizens to audit classes for free, and some elderly students participate in planned estate giving. As an epicenter of local events and workshops, community colleges enrich their neighborhoods along with providing vital skills for the workforce. Consider launching a campaign in which you encourage former students (or even people who took some classes for fun) to give back via crowdfunding. You could challenge them to use a specific skill they learned from their time at school to raise money; for example, someone who took art classes could sell off some of their work.
3. Host a Dinner Around the World
Invite students to cook family dishes or food from the culture with which they identify, and host a fundraising evening. People can either donate to your crowdfunding campaign to attend, or they can buy individual dishes through a donation to your campaign. This is an awesome way to bring the community together, and a great fundraiser for the administration or individual groups or clubs. Find a space such as a gymnasium or field where people can walk around the different “stations” and try a variety of cuisines. It may be expensive to buy all of the ingredients for the cooks, but with a strong attendance, it can be a huge success!
4. Tutor Students at Nearby Schools
If your community college club or team needs to make money, complement your earnings from online crowdfunding with revenue from paid tutoring for local students. Members of your group can offer one-on-one guidance to high school or grade school students, or you can host open study hours on campus and invite the students to come in for help. Divide your team up into groups that specialize in certain subjects, with students who have expertise in math, a foreign language, science or literature catering to students who need help in their subject of choice. This type of fundraiser also gives tutors the opportunity to take on leadership roles that look good on their resumes and improve communication.
5. Host a De-Stress Event Around Finals Season
If your campus group needs to fundraise, or if it simply wants to raise money for a good cause, consider hosting a de-stress event on campus during finals week. Many schools put on events to relax students; a popular one is bringing dogs from a local shelter for overwhelmed students to pet. Not only do the canines get some love, but studies show that the experience lowers the student’s stress levels as well and provides a healthy study break. Other options include a yoga class, a guided meditation, or a field games afternoon that allows students to release their stress through exercise. Ask attendees to give back by donating to your crowdfunding campaign.
6. Organize an Alumni Association Event
Unlike large universities, community colleges rarely have offices that keep track of alumni and contact them for fundraising efforts. However, an article in the Los Angeles Times noted the increasing trend of California junior colleges attempting to keep track of their alumni pool, a difficult task for institutions that people often attend briefly and without taking a degree. You can utilize contact alumni found through your institution’s Facebook page and invite them to a fundraising event for your cause. Ask them to share the link to your campaign, and at the event, set up a donation station with a laptop showing your campaign page.
Foundation for Success
Community colleges provide an important educational and social foundation. They offer affordable classes and skills training in addition to a social and cultural gathering place for students and surrounding residents. By fundraising alongside neighborhood leaders and members of the broader local community, your community college campaign can provide funding for great causes while bringing people together.
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