SPS Chapters Get Creative with Fundraising

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Special Feature

Development and Fundraising

SPS Chapters Get Creative with Fundraising


SPS Staff

Sigma Pi Sigma Development, Connecting donors to student programs treeSPS members are top-notch problem solvers. Perhaps it’s their training in physics; perhaps it’s just their natural inclination. Whatever the reason, they bring the same creativity to raising funds for their chapters as they do to conducting research in the laboratory.

Much of the money that allows chapters to function is brought in by the initiative of individual members. Small events can raise a few hundred dollars at a time, whether they involve selling ice cream frozen with a vat of liquid nitrogen at a campus SpringFest; holding a cupcake bake sale to celebrate Pi Day (March 14); or putting out a tip jar at a booth with physics demos at a local community festival.

Many chapters also reach out to their physics departments for support. Some seek corporate sponsorships. Others contact alumni networks, counting on the generosity of those who once stood in their shoes and recognize the value of nurturing undergraduates. Additional support is provided by SPS national itself—from the Future Faces of Physics and Marsh W. White awards that make outreach projects possible, to travel awards that send students to conferences.

Without fundraising, the pizza parties that bring members together to chat about physics and college life wouldn’t be possible. Neither would the expensive trips to quadrennial Sigma Pi Sigma congresses, which many chapters begin to prepare for years in advance.

Below is a sampling of the experiences several chapters have had as they raised money to attend the 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress (Phys-Con), as told in their own words.

“...they bring the same creativity to raising funds for their chapters as they do to conducting research in the laboratory.”

Abilene Christian University SPS members act as human canvases for a breast cancer awareness project. Photo by Tim Head.

Abilene Christian University

Sixteen students (1 woman and 15 men) from the Abilene Christian University (ACU) chapter donned elaborately decorated bras and joined a parade for breast cancer awareness. Other members, more modestly dressed, sold liquid nitrogen ice cream to an enthusiastic and overjoyed crowd of spectators.

“Partnering with the Center for Contemporary Arts for their breast cancer awareness project was a great way for us to step up and be active in our community while at the same time raising funds for our chapter’s trip to Phys-Con,” said junior physics major and ACU-SPS vice president Andrew Miller. “We had a great time doing it and made a lot of people’s faces light up with our chapter’s antics.”

University of North Alabama

As part of our fundraising, we spent late nights baking homemade doughnuts and handmade chocolates with shapes from Star Wars.

Eastern Michigan University

Partnering with Cold Stone Creamery, our chapter held a profit-share fundraiser at which students scooped up fun and cold treats. We also helped freshmen move into their dorms. These activities increased SPS’s presence on campus and in the community. Our fundraising efforts got a boost from the university’s physics department and student government.

Marquette University

This year, as we were struggling to pull together enough funding to attend the Quadrennial Physics Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma, we entered the Radiations magazine crossword drawing. Thanks to a stroke of luck and some hard teamwork on the tougher clues, we won a $1000 award offered by Diane Jacobs, a past president of Sigma Pi Sigma, to support chapter attendance at PhysCon. With her contribution and an SPS Chapter Reporter Award, we were able to pull together the rest of the funding required to send six students to the meeting.

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

One of our members worked very hard to secure funding from the Student Senate of Stockton College. She kicked off what all of our members know as the first Physics Club Galactic Bake Sale. Stockton College and its SPS chapter would not have been represented at this Quadrennial Congress if its president hadn’t taken the bull by the horns in the way that she did.

University of Wisconsin River Falls

In 2008 our chapter sent a group to the 2008 Congress. Our advisor is very active in SPS National, so we have heard about how exciting and important the congress is every year since! [For the 2012 PhysCon] we worked to raise funds for nearly four years and were generously funded by University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF) Falcon Grants and UWRF physics alumni.

Roberts Wesleyan College

After receiving a startup donation from a very generous alumnus, we continued our fundraising efforts at homecoming. We set up a variety of physics games for people to play, including a projectile-motion dunk tank stocked with SPS members and professors willing to donate their time to the cause. Though it was cold that day, three professors and a resident director were willing to take the “polar plunge.” It certainly paid off. We also did some fun physics demonstrations and generated interest in our physics program and SPS, which will hopefully keep our chapter alive as some of us move on to the next phase of our education.

Grove City College

The primary fundraiser for our physics club is Rent-A-Student. Members volunteer to go to the homes of professors and people in the community to rake leaves or do odd jobs in exchange for a donation to the club. This is a surprisingly successful and dependable fundraiser for us. Each year we save a portion of this income for the congress, yielding four years of funds that help alleviate the travel expenses for students. In addition to the Rent-A-Student fundraiser, we also received a generous donation supporting the trip from KEYW Corporation, where one of our members interned last summer. Additional alumni donations, partial support from the college for the students presenting at the meeting, and an SPS Chapter Reporter Award significantly reduced the out-of-pocket costs for our club members. Three members also received funding from outside sources.

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