FSTS or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fundraising

We do a lot of fundraising here at FSTS. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you have probably been inundated with notices about our latest initiative, the Instructional Skills Workshop series. It may seem like we’re constantly asking for money and if you don’t know the behind-the-scenes details, you might think we’re sipping champagne and eating caviar in our penthouse apartment overlooking English Bay. Replace the caviar with sushi and that’s definitely in my ten-year plan, but the reality right now is more $2 beer at Elwoods on a Thursday.

In the interests of transparency, here’s a quick breakdown of where our funding comes from, and what it goes towards:

Funding from all sources

Funding from all sources

First and foremost is the TLEF funding we’ve received for the last two years. This money goes towards hiring students over the summer, and throughout the year. It goes through our DI Librarian in charge of the project and the funds can only be allocated to students hired for specific tasks related to enhancing teaching and learning resources at UBC.

In 2014, three summer positions were created; Maude Côté-Landry and Heather Odell researched and compiled the metadata for the entire McGregor Squeeze collection, a task that included reconciling the IG I2 and IG I3 numbers, as well as identifying the IG #’s of the entire collection of Athenian Tribute Lists in our collection. I was hired to digitize the squeezes, a task I’ve written about a couple times so I won’t bore you with recapping the details once more. All last year, Chelsea wrestled with the diabolical CONTENTdm system at DI and lived to tell the tale.

This year, we were able to hire 5 students and I introduced you to them in last week’s post (although Katie STILL hasn’t given us a picture for her profile!) Jasmine and Courtney worked on the Bahrain collection, Katie and Kat were creating teaching modules and Emma was busy working on bibliographies and guides to help students make sense of our squeezes and the ATL’s. Jasmine and Chelsea will continue working on the project throughout the school year, on the Bahrain collection and whatever else comes up – there’s always 100 things that need done and time/money to tackle 10 of them. To date, we’ve received just over $50,000 of funding from the TLEF.

Secondly, the CNERS Department has been enormously supportive and over the last two years has awarded TA-ships dedicated to the project. This has helped immensely, as we now have students working on specific tasks each week and getting paid for it. Last year, we had Kat and Heather, working as our media director and metadata specialists respectively. This year, we have the indomitable Molly Hutt (who will be introducing herself to you all shortly!) and in the second semester, Katie and Flor will take over. We’re grateful for all the support we’ve received from the department, and the individual professors who have invited us into their classrooms to share the resources we’ve created with their students. All of those TA-ships, plus the generous support they’ve given us for conference travel, adds up to nearly $24,000.

Fundraising Initiatives

Fundraising Initiatives

And finally, our own fundraising initiatives – all those bake sales, book sales, trivia nights, t-shirt campaigns, and the ISW. We’ve tried a lot of different ways to fund our project, some of which are more successful than others, some are more work than others, and some, sadly, just fall a little flat (I’m looking at you, trivia night…). We learn, and try again.

Over the last three years, we’ve raised $2391, which is pretty impressive considering we were all managing to maintain our graduate coursework, TA-ships, and other commitments on top of volunteering to bake, create, or design whatever was needed to meet our goals. Breaking it down year by year, we raised $1053.14 in 2013, $597 in 2014 and to date, $970.62 in 2015.

Where the $$ goes

Where the $$ goes

You might wonder why we continually have to raise money when we have such generous funding through the university. First and foremost, we’re pretty committed to the whole hands-on, DIY attitude around here. We want to raise funds because the project needs funds, it’s that simple. The more money we have to invest in student learning, the more we can achieve. Secondly, the funds we have from the TLEF and the department are used for paid positions for students that help pay their rent, buy their groceries, and maybe even help them afford to fly to Greece to dig for the summer. We LOVE supporting that. However there are project costs above and beyond keeping our staff fed, clothed, and housed.

Conferences – this is a big one – because we want to share our work with the academic community and that’s done at conferences. To date, we’ve presented at conferences in Paris, New Orleans, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, and have upcoming conferences in Atlanta and San Francisco. We’ve had to turn down an opportunity to go to Grenoble earlier this month because we did not have the funds. There’s the cost of flights (part of which we can get covered – one time only – through the graduate student travel bursary), accommodations, and occasionally conference registration and poster printing. The CNERS Department supported our conference travel last year as well, but for the most part the entirety of our travel costs fall on us.

Paid work – about 40% of the funds raised in 2013 went to David Assaf, who we hired to create the metadata and set up our initial Omeka website for the Fuller Artifact collection. We have since moved to the paid version of Omeka and incorporated that into a beta-site still under construction (don’t judge it too harshly, its still in development!) that has all three artifact collections and is constantly updated with student research.

Website and Software – websites aren’t free, yo. Well, some are, but if you want something with complete customization and enough storage to contain 3 fully digitized artifact collections, you pay yearly fees. Also, it has been a fantastic learning experience for Kat, David, Chloe and I as we learned how to create and customize our websites. Maintaining what we’ve got now costs just over $200/year.

mugPromotion and Merchandise – we’ve tried a number of things that are working, but slowly. We’ve purchased business cards and postcards that we hand out at conferences so interested parties can contact us when they’ve returned home and only vaguely remember that there was a project they were going to look into further, only what was it called…..Merchandise is available through our shop and on campus, though after some enthusiastic support from professors in our department, I think everyone who wants a sherd mug already has one. Or do they? Maybe this post will remind you there’s nothing more meta-delightful than drinking your morning coffee from a mug printed with the shattered remains of what might have been someone else’s coffee mug 2000 years ago.

Supplies – pretty standard, we got some storage and labeling material for the Fuller collection, and some cotton gloves for handling the squeezes and a cash box for the bake sales.

Volunteers – wait, what are volunteers doing on there? Doesn’t volunteer mean they don’t get paid? Are we doing everything wrong? Sometimes we like to reward (bribe) our volunteers with pizza. Or beer. And we’re going to keep doing that, because our volunteers are AWESOME, they inspire us, and their efforts help us raise more funds so we can offer more paid work and support more students getting valuable skills for their future careers, whether they’re in academia or not.

Faces you can trust. Honest.

Faces you can trust. Honest.

So there you have it – the complete and totally transparent look at our finances. No caviar, champagne, or penthouses in sight, although we’re pretty happy with the view from where we stand.

About Lisa Tweten

As one of the project mangers, Lisa is the heart of the project. She works with Digital Humanities to photograph the MacGregor squeeze collection.

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