Here are some potential sources of funding in general, with examples of emails that we’ve sent in the past. Feel free to shamelessly copy them and update as appropriate. Replace Purdue and ECE with your department name as appropriate.
So long as you’re polite, it can’t hurt to ask almost any potential source. In the grand scheme of things, the few hundreds of dollars that most chapters need to be able to attend isn’t outrageously large. Think about what your potential donor cares about, and emphasize the value of trip to your chapter in terms of what the donor is interested in supporting. In-person conversations are generally more likely to be productive than email, especially with busy faculty/staff.
Your ECE/EECS/etc. Department
Your department is a great source; we’ve personally gotten several HKN SLC trips paid for by our department. Ideally, your chapter is engaged with your department chair(s) enough that they know about HKN. Even more ideally, your chair is a member of HKN. (p.s. if they aren’t, you should fix that by initiating them as an honorary initiate!)
An in-person meeting is likely to be most successful at securing funding:
- Contact the chair’s administrative assistant to set up a meeting. If you don’t know who that is, stop in any department staff member’s office and ask them — they will want to help you! In-person will be the fastest, but email also works.
Example: (this can be in-person or email, really)
I’m the current president of IEEE-HKN, the [INSERT NAME] honor society. Could I get 15 minutes with [INSERT NAME] to chat about what our chapter’s up to? I’m generally available after 2 pm most days.
- If you don’t hear back within 2 business days, feel free to politely bump it to the top of their inbox. If you don’t hear back within another business day, figure out where their office is, and go stand in the doorway until they schedule you an appointment with the chair.
- The meeting
- Setting Up (10 minutes): Introduce HKN to the chair/update them on your chapter’s activities
- This depends on how much the chair knows about HKN and what your chapter does.
- Emphasize your service activities, especially services you might provide to students in ECE and the college community in general.
- The Ask (5 minutes): (hit these points however seems natural)
- Introduce the conference and that your chapter is working to send someone to represent your school.
- Attending the conference will strengthen your chapter by being able to exchange ideas with other chapters.
- HKN HQ provides a $250 travel stipend per chapter, but that won’t entirely cover the flight/drive/hotel.
- “Would the ECE department be able to support our chapter and fund the remainder?”
If you can’t make an in-person meeting work out, here’s an example email to send to your department chair. Obviously adapt this to your chapter, but here’s what I would send for Beta Epsilon.
Subject: Support for student travel to HKN conference?
Dear [INSERT NAME],
I’m currently the president of [INSERT SCHOOL] CHAPTER of HKN. We have about 50 active members; we’re the group that hosts the [INSERT ACTIVITY] every semester.
The annual HKN conference is in Boston, MA during November, and our chapter is trying to send me. Not only would I be representing [INSERT SCHOOL] to a bunch of high-achieving students that are likely to go to grad school, but our chapter would be able to exchange ideas with dozens of other chapters.
I’m excited about this opportunity, but financial considerations are currently preventing us from participating. HKN HQ is providing a $250 travel stipend per chapter, but it’s going to cost around XXX for the flight and hotel.
Would the ECE department be able to support our chapter by funding the remainder?
Thank you, and have a great day,
If you don’t hear back in 2 business days, feel free to politely bump it to the top of their inbox. If you don’t hear back in another business day, I would recommend forwarding the message to the chair’s administrative assistant (see above for figuring out who that is), and ask them to check with the chair to make sure they saw the email.
- Getting money from your college is very similar to getting it from your department. You’ll just need to figure out who your dean’s assistant is, and you’ll likely spend more time introducing the org and what you do for the community.
- Student Affairs / Student Life
- If you have an engineering student affairs office, they might have discretionary funds to support student org activities. If there’s a specific staff member who’s the liaison with orgs, talk to them first. If they don’t have funds, they should be able to help you (try to) find funding from the college or university as a whole.
- Corporate Relations
- It’s a bit of a long shot, but your engineering corporate relations office might either have money sitting around for student orgs, or know of a corporate partner that might be willing to sponsor your trip, either charitably or in exchange for some type of recruiting.
- Go to your college’s website, and if there isn’t an explicit corporate relations group, email someone that has “Development” or something similar in their title.
Subject: corporate partner for engineering student org?
Hi [INSERT NAME],
I’m president of [INSERT SCHOOL] chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical and computer engineering honor society. I’m trying to find funding for the chapter to send me to the annual conference. I was wondering if the College is able to connect me with a corporate partner to sponsor my travel in November. I’m not sure if you’re the right person to talk to, so, if not, I would really appreciate it if you could bounce me to someone who would know the answer.
Thanks, and have a great day!
- Look up the funding guidelines on your student governments’ websites. Some colleges have a single central student government while others have more of a federal system. Regardless of what type of system your school has, each student government will likely want to support your chapter to attend this year’s student leadership conference.
- Prepare the funding request. Be sure to highlight the aspects of the conference that will enable you to enrich your campus community. This year’s student leadership conference will provide you with numerous resources, including funding sources through IEEE and more that you will be able to share with your fellow students. Further, the personal and professional benefits are immense; attending this conference will help you network with the future leaders of our field as well as companies, academics, and other thought leaders.
- Request a meeting with your student government’s funding committee leadership (Perhaps the treasurer, vice president of finance, or equivalent) to discuss your request before you submit it. They will be able to help you fine tune the request such that it has the best chance possible for funding.
Extra note: Some student governments won’t fund travel or won’t fund events off campus. That’s ok. If you find yourself in a situation where your student government won’t fund a “standard” request to attend the conference; approach it from a different angle. You are asking for funding to bring new skills to campus. You’re going to be able to bring more community service opportunities by learning from other chapters. You’re going to get trained on conducting professional development sessions for your department/college.