From smaller, newer groups to 200-person clubs, student organizations at the University of Michigan are finding a surprising way to secure funding and boost engagement: by turning to one another for help.
Much of the funding for student organizations comes from the Central Student Government’s Student Organization Funding Committee. Clubs must complete an application linked on CSG’s website to be considered for funding. Then, CSG offers the student organization however much money they think is appropriate, ranging from $0 to $10,000 over the course of a semester. Organizations may also petition for more money if they feel they deserve more funds.
According to LSA senior Chloe Halprin, head chair of SOFC, the biggest challenge clubs face is that SOFC works on a reimbursement basis. The club must pay for whatever fees they incur, present SOFC with a receipt of their expenses and are then able to receive money from SOFC. Newer clubs often struggle to find sufficient funds to cover their expenses before reimbursement, Halprin said.
To combat this problem, CSG also runs the Wolverine Consulting Group, which consults for new organizations and offers them funding.
Halprin said new clubs can benefit by partnering with an organization that is established and more well-funded.
“(SOFC) likes to hear about when (organizations) are partnering together because one of the main things we consider when reviewing applications is campus impact,” Halprin said.
MUSIC Matters is a nonprofit student organization that aims to enact social impact through music. The organization offers a $2,500 scholarship to two clubs every year, who must submit a written application and then undergo an interview. The final four clubs go to a “pitchfest” where they speak in front of MUSIC Matters members, explaining why they feel they deserve the scholarship.
LSA senior Katie Kim, MUSIC Matters community partnership co-chair, said MUSIC Matters typically sponsor newer organizations to support their initial growth.
“We focus on organizations whose values align with MUSIC Matters’, and who show that they will use the scholarship money to create something meaningful in the community,” Kim said. “We often encourage smaller and newer organizations to apply since they may not have much funding at the start of their establishment.”
The past two scholarship recipients have been Michigan Movement, a nonprofit dedicated to alleviating homelessness and poverty in Ann Arbor, and We are Queens, a nonprofit centered around dance and empowering women.
MUSIC Matters continues to work with the scholarship recipients and attend each other’s events after transferring the funds in order to ensure that the relationship between the clubs is not simply transactional.
The clubs receiving the scholarships also continue this relationship. During the MUSIC Matters 2021 virtual SpringFest, Michigan Movement and We Are Queens both hosted Zoom breakout rooms where they hosted a Zumba Class and created a Google Jamboard activity with messages written to the local Ann Arbor community.
LSA senior Adam Bernstein, the other MUSIC Matters community partnership co-chair, said both MUSIC Matters and funding recipients benefit from the scholarship.
“Oftentimes the organizations are just getting off the ground,” Bernstein said. “Having 200 people plus immediately off the bat helping your organization, especially if it’s smaller and newer and whatever else, is super helpful.”
Bernstein said MUSIC Matters is often incorrectly viewed as just a music festival, due to their annual SpringFest concert, when they are instead a multifaceted organization that seeks to collaborate with other clubs.
“(The music festival) is definitely a lot of what we do, but there’s much more than that,” Bernstein said. “And the opportunity to be in a club that can say ‘We brought in J. Cole,’ and also helped the homeless population of Ann Arbor while being in one organization, is really rare.”
Music, Theatre & Dance and LSA senior Tal Kamin, the founder of We Are Queens, echoed Bernstein in saying that collaboration helps all organizations involved.
“The whole point of what a student organization does … is to empower its members to develop both the soft and the hard skills to not only be better students and better future job applicants, but to be better people,” Kamin said. “And in order to be a better person, I think a lot of it is about spreading the wealth and learning from each other. Not collaborating, I think, is a waste of potential.”
Kamin said We Are Queens has received money that helped fund their marketing, software for the website, t-shirts, music video production and a stipend for a club mentor. Beyond these monetary benefits, Kamin said MUSIC Matters puts additional time and effort into achieving We Are Queens’s goals, such as helping edit the music.
“None of us are musicians and none of them are dancers, so it was cool to bring our shared passions together,” Kamin said.
Kamin said MUSIC Matters is not the first club she has partnered with. For fundraising activities and mental health initiatives, she has informally partnered with sororities and fraternities to raise awareness outside of We Are Queens.
Two years ago, a fraternity and Kamin’s sorority — Delta Sigma Phi and Delta Phi Epsilon — co-sponsored a basketball tournament in support of We Are Queens.
Partnerships between student organizations are apparent throughout campus, Kamin said, from newly established clubs to organizations in Fraternity & Sorority Life.
“(Club collaboration) is a really cool opportunity to not only learn from each other and take advantage of different perspectives and points of views but also help bring something to life that wouldn’t otherwise exist,” Kamin said.
Daily News Contributor Kavya Uppalapati can be reached at email@example.com.