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 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:
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?
Hi Prof. CHANGEME,
I’m currently the president of Michigan’s chapter of IEEE-HKN, the international honor society for EECS students. We have about 50 active members; we’re the group that hosts the Student-Faculty Mixer every semester.
The annual HKN conference is in West Lafayette, IN during the first weekend of April, and our chapter is trying to send me. Not only would I be representing Michigan 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 $600 for the flight and hotel.
Would the ECE department be able to support our chapter by funding the remaining $350?
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.
!. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Feel free to touch base with the Beta Chapter conference committee. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.