Fundraise Your Way to PhysCon

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Pathways - Advice from Experienced Voices

Fundraise Your Way to PhysCon


Brittney Hauke, 2022 Physics Congress Planning Committee Member; PhD Candidate, The Pennsylvania State University

The 2022 Physics Congress will be epic, as it will be celebrating the centennial of Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society. With a roster of inspiring plenary and centennial speakers, an amazing location in the nation’s capital, poster and art sessions, a dance party, and a centennial festival, this is a must-attend event for all undergraduates interested in physics.

SPS recognizes that for many chapters, bringing members to Washington, DC, for the weekend is an expensive endeavor. For those planning to attend, now is the time to raise money for the trip. Below are suggestions on how to get started.

1 Ask!

Ask your student government, dean, and department if they can help fund your trip. After all, it’s good for your school and department to be represented at this national gathering, and it’s a great way to showcase your chapter’s research and outreach efforts. Ask research supervisors if their grants can support travel funds for students to present posters at professional meetings like PhysCon. Many grants include money for this purpose, and some organizations give awards for traveling to present research.

2 Everyone’s favorite: Sell stuff.

My SPS chapter is very good at creating a fun T-shirt for PhysCon, which all the members buy to wear to the event. We market to alumni, who sometimes pay more than what the shirt costs as a way of providing support for student travel. Other ideas: Make stickers, buttons, hats, or polo shirts; sell coffee or soda; or have a bake sale!

 Brad Conrad, director of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma, demonstrates the concept of a “Pi a Professor” fundraiser—no costume necessary. Photo by SPS National.

3 Ask your Greek life chapters how they fundraise for philanthropies.

Consider working with an already established organization, Greek or otherwise, and cohost a fundraising event.

4 Approach alumni for travel support.

First, clear the idea with your advancement office. They can help you find contact information for alumni if needed.

5 Seek sponsorships with local businesses that students frequent.

Examples include restaurants, coffee shops, and technical companies, but make sure this is allowed by your college! Again, Greek life or other campus groups may have experience with this and can give you pointers. Check out the PhysCon fundraising page for a sample letter to use.

6 Look for ways to save on travel.

For PhysCon 2012, my chapter approached United Airlines for a group rate that saved a few thousand dollars and made it easy to secure passage for the whole group on the same plane.

7 If driving, ask if your university or college has discounted van rentals.

An athletic team office may be a great resource, as they usually rent or own vans.

8 Apply for funding from SPS National!

SPS National has a variety of opportunities to get funding for travel. There are chapter and individual travel awards for presenting research and art, and for meeting reporters.

This T-shirt, designed by Texas Lutheran University SPS members as a fundraiser, pays homage to the scientists who won the 2020 Physics Nobel Prize for work on black holes. Image courtesy of the chapter.

For even more fundraising ideas, sponsor letter templates, and a spreadsheet to help calculate travel costs, visit

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Pathways - Advice from Experienced Voices