I was a social worker for 25 years before starting the LGBTQ&A Alumni of Carson-Newman; a small, non-profit organization to help LGBT students who attend a Carson-Newman University; a faith-based college in rural East Tennessee. Our group has so many ideas about how to not only help these students, but also how to work with the school’s administration to ultimately change the environment to one that is affirming and supportive of LGBT students.
Many people are just now beginning to realize the needs of these students. Study after study shows that young LGBT individuals are at a higher risk of brutal pitfalls; especially those who find themselves living within the type of community one might find on a conservative, Christian, college campus. These pitfalls include self-harm, depression, anxiety, isolation, family alienation, substance abuse, poor school performance, bullying, and higher rates of STDS including HIV/AIDS.
Coming up with ideas that will make a difference to LGBT students is fairly easy. We have 150 brilliant members in our group; all of whom contribute their knowledge, experience, and skills to the organization.
The most difficult aspect of running the organization is FUNDRAISING! There are so many factors that make fundraising difficult for our organization…
1.) Depressed economy
2.) Apathy (“Why should I give money that will ultimately end up in the pockets of an organization that does not support LGBT equality?” or “Why would a student decide to go to a school that devalues their orientation?”)
3.) Donor burnout
4.) Lack of fundraising skills
We have been able to fund all of the projects for this year except one: our scholarship fund. We have set a goal of raising $1,000 for a scholarship. We’re only about half way there and the deadline is quickly approaching. I will be so disappointed if we’re not able to reach our goal.
The student who requested financial assistance is an openly gay young man who has amazingly become a student leader at Carson-Newman. That’s pretty incredible considering that he goes to a Tennessee Baptist affiliated university in rural East Tennessee. The odds are stacked against him. Yet he has found the strength and courage to get himself elected to the Student Government Association with a stated platform of LGBT equality and he has become an ambassador of sorts to other LGBT students at CNU—working with them to create a supportive network of friends and professors.
I’ve come to the conclusion that during our next fiscal year we are going to have to come up with a more efficient way of fundraising. Some ideas include:
1.) Fundraising events, such as dinners, silent auctions, online auctions, etc.
2.) Investigation of online fundraising options
3.) Grants and other philanthropic funding programs
It’s been my own lack of business experience that has left us in the predicament we’re currently facing. This is my learning curve; painful as it may be.
In the meantime we are still accepting donations to support our student. Donations may be made to our PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m always open to additional ideas and guidance. Please feel free to leave a comment…
July 2, 2014…
In the past 24 hours donations to the scholarship fund poured in from around the country. We have added an additional $600 to our fund!! We have surpassed our goal of $1,000!
Just when I thought I’d seen everything… Thank you God and thanks to all of those who helped out!!