Parties can often quench students’ thirst for weekend festivities, but when used to raise funds for organizations they can test the waters of legality.
While throwing house parties is a fail-safe way to make some quick cash, student organizations do so at the risk of jeopardizing the legitimacy of their group in the eyes of student activities, which oversees all registered Temple student organizations. This does not dissuade some groups, however, because parties so effectively generate revenue.
Parties cannot be advertised like other fundraising efforts on campus, with flyers and notices posted around Main Campus, but this does not mean that they’re difficult to find. A student organization which recently raised $760 with a fundraiser party said that Facebook is the main facilitator for party advertisements, followed closely by word of mouth.
“Facebook is the most obvious way of doing it,” an organization member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. “It’s become standard to log on to Facebook [on] Friday or Saturday night and see what’s going on. Then friends bring their friends, too.”
Apps like “Erodr,” which uses a smartphone’s location to map out parties that people have announced in the general vicinity, supplement the advertising of Facebook.
Since party goers roam the streets on weekend evenings looking for fun options, parties are bound to see some turnout simply by existing.
The student organization that spoke with The Temple News recently held a fundraiser party, calling it “a huge success,” since it beat its financial goal of $500 by almost $300. It offered a DJ, two kegs of beer, jungle juice and $1 shots,” the spokesperson said.
“You know, when you think about it, that one thing most college students are willing to pay for is going to parties,” the spokesperson said. “We like to make money in other ways, because they’re more legitimate, but if we need to make money in a short time, then we throw a party.”
Christopher Carey, associate director of student activities, said that the primary concern involving “fundragers” is the issue of legality.
“It’s actually illegal,” Carey said. “That’s the biggest concern for registered student organizations engaging in activities that violate state laws, and therefore the student code of conduct.”
It’s also illegal to charge people to enter a residence with the intent to serve them alcohol without a liquor license, along with the fact that house parties often cater to underage drinking – a point Carey noted.
Student activities is not unsympathetic to the fact that groups often struggle to come up with the necessary funds to put on events, Carey said.
Organizations are encouraged to be creative with their fundraising efforts but are not expected to “be like a business” in the way they bring in money, he added. If an organization is in need of funding for an upcoming expense or event, there are allocations available through Temple Student Government.
David Lopez, TSG student body president, said that $123,000 was provided this year from the university to be distributed to student organizations.
Once representatives of an organization attend three main meetings that cover basic organizational expectations at Temple, they become eligible to receive allocations in times of financial need. Groups can be ranked with a “star system,” with which participation in general meetings earns them stars that indicate how much money they will receive, Lopez said.
“Our hope is that [allocations] cover the base,” Lopez said. “Or cover an opportunity that you can’t raise money for in a very short time. If you have an amazing speaker coming, hey, we have allocations for that.”
Lopez and Carey both said they hope that student organizations think “outside of the box” when generating fundraising strategies. Creative, fun event fundraisers add to a positive campus atmosphere and are “a matter of respect and safety for all the people involved,” Carey said. Campus Safety officers shouldn’t have to deal with the additional pressure of house parties, he added.
“There are so many options [for fundraising],” Lopez said. “The problem is we don’t try them all.”
Some student organizations and individuals have found successful alternatives to the typical house party, keeping their fundraisers entertaining and appealing to attending students, while still legal. These fundraisers raked in around the same amount or even more money than the aforementioned house-party fundraiser.
Meredith LaBoon, a junior theater major, took a different approach to “fundragers” with events she held this and last semester to fund her plans to produce the play “Asylum,” by Keith Aisner, as part of the Philly Fringe Festival last fall.
Instead of centering her party on alcohol, LaBoon hosted a number of bands at her friend’s apartment. The charge at the door of her party covered the music performed for her guests.
“[Partying] is a college staple,” LaBoon said. “So I thought, ‘How can I take that idea and make it relevant and legal, and something that would work?’”
Bands at her fundraiser party included Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five, a jazz group of Boyer students; Salsa Shark from Saint Joe’s University; The Hungry Ghosts, a hip-hop/rap group; and The Apple Days, a folk band.
“We really had something for everyone,” LaBoon said. “We had a huge turnout, and it was great.”
Her event made a net profit of $650.
Much like LaBoon catered to the music interests of her college peers, other student organizations such as Temple’s chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma offer fundraisers that appeal to other desires than alcohol-based partying.
On March 7, the sorority held its Grilled Cheese Fundraiser, which benefits a charity every semester. This semester’s Grilled Cheese Fundraiser benefitted FAIR Girls, an organization that “promotes the empowerment of girls,” said Des Cavalancia, a sophomore jewelry/metals major and Phi Sigma Sigma’s fundraising chair.
From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the sorority sold grilled cheese for a dollar to students out and about. Last semester, the same fundraiser made $900 to benefit Ruby’s Kids. Most of the food products needed for the fundraiser are donated from local businesses such as Richie’s on Main Campus or parents of the sisters who work in the food industry.
With alternatives to the standard house party being used by some students and their organizations, non-traditional events can offer something more meaningful than a cheap drink. Creative inspiration comes in handy when planning successful fundraisers without using alcohol as the motivator.
“It’s a shift in the mentality,” Carey said.
Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.