Fundraising is one of the most critical responsibilities of the planning team. It must begin early. If your group has not started the fundraising process, now is the time. Below you will find some general fundraising guidelines.

The host chapter should put together a fundraising committee, which should function separate from the planning committee because fundraising takes time, phone calls, follow-up visits if possible, etc. By separating the two, each committee is devoted to separate functions that are each equally important to the conference.

Fundraising Committee
When recruiting volunteers to help in a fundraiser, consider these three principles:

  1. Share the cost information and goals with students. Doing so will enable the students to identify with the purpose of the committee and they may be more willing to contribute their time.
  2. Make it creative and offer incentives. Fundraising can be productive and enjoyable. Encourage the students by giving them an incentive, such as a discount on their registration fee or hotel bills.
  3. Share profit information. Feedback – letting participants know how much money was raised lets them know the fruit of their labor.

Fundraising letter templates

Internal and external sources

These are sources closest to the student chapters:

  • Work concessions for university sporting events
  • Your chapter's engineering department/college of engineering
  • The student government association

Outside of the university structure are the senior chapters of IISE and industry and local businesses. A great selling point would be to trade project work or support time for a contribution from some of the external sources such as the senior ISE chapters and the ISE companies.

Tip: If your chapter has a good working relationship with your local professional ISE chapter or has a representative on their board, attend one of their meetings to formally issue an invitation or make a presentation about your conference.

Corporate sponsors/local businesses

The key to seeking corporate sponsors is to show the benefits the companies would derive from their contributions; namely increased visibility. In seeking corporate sponsors, target large companies that employ industrial engineers in your region or area, companies that sell ISE products, and mass marketers. Get companies in the last two categories to buy ad space in the program or bulletin to market their products. Encourage the local stores, restaurants, and other service oriented businesses to put a coupon in the program or announcements. Funds generated from ad space in the program can alleviate the printing and mailing expenses associated with the conference.

Specific sponsored events

Also consider corporate sponsors for specific events such as the awards banquet, student icebreaker, or other activities. More importantly, the Technical Paper Competition by itself is an excellent opportunity for corporate sponsorship. Naming the competition and/or the awards for the sponsoring company is an excellent way for that company to gain reputation among the students in your region.

Sponsorship of events is more powerful because a company's name is associated with specific activities, especially fun events. Be sure to tie the sponsor's name to the event. Give specific recognition such as banners or an announcement at the opening/closing speech of an event. Specific sponsored events will save the host chapter time, money, and energy that can be spent on other things.

In-kind donations

Don't forget in-kind donations. These are goods and services donated by companies ( printing costs, mailing/shipping, food and beverage, t-shirts,) that are as good as cash donations. Printing is a common in-kind donation. Often, large companies have their own print shops and can donate their services. Your university or department may be able to help cut costs with printing also.

Check out more sources for creative fundraisers on the Internet. And remember follow-up is important. Be sure to recognize all contributions and parties involved.

Fundraising timeline

6-9 months before 

  • Identify potential corporate sponsors. Seek input from departments on potential sources. Make sure you get contact names.
  • Send out initial fundraising letter to potential sponsors. Be sure to include specific information about the conference such as dates, events, and benefits received by sponsoring companies.
  • Follow up through phone calls and e-mails to companies who have or have not responded. Contact is important to ensure participation. It also shows they are participating in a well organized event.
  • Work to determine new potential sources. Keep the letters going out.
  • Develop a budget and revisit your target. Develop a tracking system.
  • Keep volunteers informed and current on progress. Appreciate them.

3-6 months before 

  • Continue to contact new companies and follow up on previous contacts.
  • Send out thank you letters to those already sponsoring the event. Include a more detailed description of the conference and its events.
  • If you are having a job fair, now would be a good time to solicit the companies sponsoring the event to participate in the job fair. Put them in contact with the Job Fair Committee.
  • Follow up with those that haven’t responded or haven’t delivered the check yet.
  • Send final budget to IISE headquarters.
  • Keep volunteers informed and current on progress. Appreciate them.

0-3 months before 

  • Follow up with all remaining companies until you receive concrete answers (yes or no) regarding sponsorship.
  • Obtain company information such as corporate description, logos to be placed on conference materials/t-shirts.
  • Special personalized thank you letters to the companies for their support in making the conference possible. Invite them to attend if they wish.
  • Follow up with finance person to make sure all checks are deposited and keep track of expenses.
  • Big thank yous to your volunteers on the fundraising team.