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One-Stop Shop: Program and Fundraising Ideas

Does your chapter need simple, cost-efficient programs to draw in members or just have fun? Are you looking for ways to raise more cash for your coffers? If so, we can help!

This page includes a treasure trove of program and fundraising ideas — many pulled from chapters' most recent annual reports.

Read on to find::
Programs in a Box: Wow your members movies and/or pizza, with all the resources you need to bring these to the finish line.
Programming ideas: Read about the best of the best programs developed by pro and campus chapters across the country.
Fundraising ideas: Likewise, borrow well-tested ideas from other chapters to raise the dollars you need for sound operations.
Florida out front: The Florida Pro chapter is among the most innovative in the country. Check out its programs — then follow the links to learn more.

Programs in a Box

Wow your members movies and/or pizza, with all the resources you need to bring these to the finish line.

Journalism Movie Night

If your chapter is worn out on all the professional skill building, resume critiquing and service projects, maybe it's time for some good, plain fun. Try out the J-Movies Night. We've got everything here for you in our little box of tricks, including fliers you can customize and a long list of movies having something to do with the profession we all love. The only thing we can't do? Pop the popcorn. Enjoy!

Slice 'n' Dice

Grab a slice and let the pros dice. That's right, it's Slice 'n' Dice, a program that brings together students and professionals for networking, résumé critiques and grub. We've got everything you need in the "virtual" box, including directions, flyers and a sign up sheet. There are even some nifty table tents to spruce up the place. All you need to do is bring in the pros and order some pizza.

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Programming ideas

Many SPJ chapters break the mold when they plan programs and activities that are different and interesting. Programs with a speaker or a panel discussion certainly have their place, but chapters also should consider other ideas, like the ones below, compiled from 2019 annual reports.

Campus chapter programs

News Engagement Day: Educating students about journalism with quizzes and games about journalism, spotting fake news, current events
Hosted by: Central Connecticut State University, Region 1

Trivia Night: A test of journalism knowledge, held with other clubs
Hosted by: Hofstra University, Region 1

A conversation with PIOs: How to improve communication with school, government officials
Hosted by: Ithaca University, Region 1

An FOI board in the journalism building: Lots of contributions
Hosted by: Lehigh University, Region 1

Food drive: Chapter members and other students participated; donations went to local food bank
Hosted by: Marist University, Region 1

Presentations on AP style: To both journalism and non-journalism students
Hosted by: Roger Williams University, Region 1

Chat and a show: Met with a theater critic at a diner to discuss the review process; then went to see a play
Hosted by: William Paterson University, Region 1

Job screening: Helped interview candidates for positions in the communications department
Hosted by: Appalachian State University, Region 2

Middle school training: Spent the semester teaching journalism skills to students from a middle school described as being infiltrated by gangs and violence; culminated in a tour of college campus
Hosted by: University of Maryland, Region 2

Cookout: Invited freshmen to a welcome cookout
Hosted by: University of Maryland, Region 2

Code of ethics: Read aloud and go over the SPJ Code of Ethics for new members at interest meetings
Hosted by: Virginia Commonwealth University, Region 2

‘Times’ broadcasts: Gather to watch “Get With the Times” events live streamed by The New York Times
Hosted by: Washington & Lee University, Region 2

John Peter Zenger First Amendment debate: Schools from California, Virginia and D.C. had student teams debate a First Amendment premise, with preliminaries leading to final event
Hosted by: Region 2 conference

Constitution Day/Banned Books Week
Hosted by: Augusta University, Region 3

AP Style Trivia Quiz: Gave gift cards as prizes
Hosted by: Kennesaw State University, Region 3

State of the Union watch party: With political science department and student government and activists, followed by roundtable about common facts and the role of the press
Hosted by: Florida International University, Region 3

SPJ Code of Ethics: Use the code to work through a series of ethical dilemmas
Hosted by: University of Alabama, Region 3

Interactive Voting Game table: Match candidates to their platform
Hosted by: University of Alabama, Region 3

FOI audit: A test of how the school’s general counsel responded. Nine letters asked for police reports in different categories. A tenth was about the search for a new coach.
Hosted by: Central Michigan University, Region 4

Photo ethics: A review of several photos. Which should be placed in stories?
Hosted by: Central Michigan University, Region 4

Free speech: An open forum in which students can discuss and debate what free speech is
Hosted by: John Carroll University, Region 4

Scavenger hunt: A search throughout campus to find items and take selfies; some were media related
Hosted by: Ohio University, Region 4

Grammar Smackdown: A test of mastery of grammar and AP style
Hosted by: Ohio University, Region 4

Pumpkin carving: A competition against another student group
Hosted by: Ohio University, Region 4

Reverse press conference: Public Relations Student Society of America members acted as journalists and SPJ members acted as public relations professionals
Hosted by: Ohio University, Region 4

Self-care workshop: How to cope with stress, especially at finals time. With a therapy dog, pizza, pages to color, stress balls, homemade lip scrub
Hosted by: Ohio University, Region 4

John Knox Writing Contest: Students spent an hour interviewing a guest speaker, then got three hours to write a feature story. The winner received $500.
Hosted by: Waynesburg University, Region 4

Earth Day photography contest: There were 98 entries
Hosted by: Campbellsville University, Region 5

First Amendment Week: With multiple parts: Journalists talk about hostility and challenges they face; a memorial event for those killed on the job; an FOI panel; a faculty discussion on the state of religious freedom; a podcast on banned books
Hosted by: Eastern Kentucky University, Region 5

Pumpkin painting: Exercise First Amendment rights by painting opinions on pumpkins
Hosted by: Eastern Kentucky University, Region 5

Public Newsroom series: Journalists explain what they do, helping the community understand journalism and give feedback
Hosted by: DePaul University, Region 5

Headshots: Photojournalists would take portraits of people in the community who cannot afford one
Proposed by: Minnesota State University, Region 6

Chalk Day: Students exercise their free speech through quotes or drawings on the sidewalk
Hosted by: San Antonio College, Region 8

Volleyball: Held a volleyball tournament to interact with other campus groups
Hosted by: Tarleton State University, Region 8

Public storytelling: Multiple campus groups worked together on a storytelling event to help students practice free speech and storytelling
Hosted by: Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Region 8

Jeopardy!: A Jeopardy-style game show looking at dilemmas of journalism ethics
Hosted by: University of Oklahoma, Region 8

Volunteering: Spent a day volunteering with a nonprofit that helps abused children
Hosted by: University of Oklahoma, Region 8

Fact-checking: With other campus groups, live fact-checking of a congressional debate on social media
Hosted by: Weber State University, Region 9

Student tour: Hosted a class of 20 fourth-graders from a local elementary school to learn about journalism, ethics, interviewing, photography, podcasting and design
Hosted by: University of Idaho, Region 10

Open letter: Wrote an open letter from the chapter in the student newspaper decrying President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric
Hosted by: Cal State Fullerton, Region 11

Holiday party: Hosted on campus
Hosted by: Cal State University Northridge, Region 11

Foley run: Part of a national event to honor the late photojournalist James Foley. Participants went around campus, then reconvened for refreshments and discussion
Hosted by: Cal State University Northridge, Region 11

Bookmarks: Worked with Boys and Girls Club, coloring bookmarks to promote literacy and donating books to the group’s library
Hosted by: Arkansas Tech University, Region 12

Legislative luncheon coverage: Covered state legislative luncheon where lawmakers discussed their priorities; wrote stories for pro SPJ chapter
Hosted by: University of Tennessee, Region 12

Pro chapter programs

Guns: Two professors talked about types of guns and ballistics; attendees then had a chance to use a firing range
Hosted by: Connecticut, Region 1

Pitches: Organizations that received government grants got a lesson on how to pitch a story to a journalist
Hosted by: Connecticut, Region 1

Podcasting workshops
Hosted by: New Jersey, Region 1

Film series: Screenings of three new journalism movies at three venues
Hosted by: Press Club of Long Island, Region 1

Youth journalism: Helped (through time and money) with high school journalism institute for students from low-income, racially diverse communities
Hosted by: Press Club of Long Island, Region 1

Freelancing: A group of freelancers meets monthly
Hosted by: Washington, D.C., Region 2

Job fair
Hosted by: Held in conjunction with four other journalism groups
Hosted by: Washington, D.C., Region 2

For freelancers
Hosted by: Georgia, Region 3

Covering a protest: A webinar with other groups on how to cover a protest, what to do if you’re arrested, what rights you have, etc.
Hosted by: Florida, Region 3

“Fake news”: A fake news game show, helping people understand how journalism works and how to judge what’s credible
Hosted by: Florida, Region 3

Speed Scrabble: “F**k Words With Friends,” a version of speed Scrabble, simulating deadline
Hosted by: Florida, Region 3

Mock press conference: MBA students pretended to be on a corporate board facing a crisis; chapter members asked questions
Hosted by: Florida, Region 3

Sunshine Seminars: An overview of FOI, media law, Sunshine Laws, and the legislative session, held in five cities across the state
Hosted by: Florida, Region 3

Doll drive: To help a girl who wanted to find dolls of color for girls like her
Hosted by: Florida, Region 3

Journalists Against Humanity: A spin on the popular card game (in progress)
Created by: Florida, Region 3

Edit-a-thon: A Wikipedia edit-a-thon focused on promoting the historic role of women in journalism
Hosted by: Georgia, Region 3

High school journalism awards: Co-sponsored a contest for high school journalists and their publications, with cash prizes
Hosted by: Central Ohio, Region 4

Election journalists: The day after the election, a social hour to salute journalists who covered it
Hosted by: Central Ohio, Region 4

Journalism Day: Training for dozens of high school students, mostly of color. Students had to cover the lunch speaker, write a story and shoot a 60-second standup video.
Hosted by: Cleveland, Region 4

Law enforcement media seminar: Police and the media talk about public information and access to public records
Hosted by: Greater Cincinnati, Region 4

Lunch with the Pros: Schools pick topics for discussion, and the chapter and its partners provide speakers. There are multiple sessions, with different schools, each year.
Hosted by: Greater Cincinnati, Region 4

“Dramatic Reading of Bad Press Releases”: Held with Public Relations Society of America at a winery
Hosted by: Greater Cincinnati, Region 4

Meeting with mayor: An on-the-record Q&A with the new mayor
Hosted by: Mid-Michigan, Region 4

FOIAFest: A daylong forum of freedom of information sessions, with a range of experts
Hosted by: Chicago, Region 5

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists: A partnership with Northwestern University. Staffed by volunteer who teach ethics at the university level.
Hosted by: Chicago, Region 5

Pivot Tables: A half-day training session
Hosted by: Chicago, Region 5

Sports leagues: The chapter sponsored a media softball league and a media bowling league
Hosted by: Chicago, Region 5

A summer picnic: For journalists and journalism supporters
Hosted by: Madison, Region 6

First Amendment press conference: With ACLU and other First Amendment advocates, called for the city to end an investigation into a confidential source who leaked a report about emergency medical providers’ use of a dangerous drug without patients’ knowledge
Hosted by: Minnesota, Region 6

Intern Night: Dozens of college students toured a TV station and got to meet media professionals and intern managers from several news organizations
Hosted by: Minnesota, Region 6

News spoof: A Gridiron show as a satire of the news. In three days, nearly 900 people attended.
Hosted by: Kansas, Region 7

Gridiron show: About 400 people attended; event netted about $10,000
Hosted by: San Antonio, Region 8

Front Page Follies: A roast of newsmakers and events
Hosted by: East Tennessee, Region 12

Gridiron Show: Two days of satirical songs and skits; 425 to 450 people attended
Hosted by: Northwest Arkansas, Region 12

“J-School in a Day”: Pros teach students at a “boot camp,” including a mock press conference and a competition for the best story written on deadline during the event
Hosted by: St. Louis, Region 7

Exiled journalist: Co-sponsored breakfast seminar with former editor-in-chief of Turkey’s largest daily newspaper, who had to flee when the government violently shut down the paper
Hosted by: San Antonio, Region 8

Distance training and mentorship: Working with an international group to use a teleconference training model to work with women journalists in Pakistan
Hosted by: Rio Grande, Region 9

New Mexico Local News Fund: Will provide training and funding to journalists and journalism programs across the state, through an application process
Hosted by: Rio Grande, Region 9

PSA: Through a grant from the Pulitzer Foundation, the chapter shot and produced three public service announcement videos (1, 2, 3) about the danger of “fake news,” recreating the classic PSA style of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Local media have shared PSAs on the air and social media.
Hosted by: Utah Headliners, Region 9

“Media Day on The Hill”: The chapter paid for a dozen local media outlets to set up tables at the capitol rotunda one day during the legislative session and meet lawmakers, their staffs and visitors.
Hosted by: Utah Headliners, Region 9

Speed networking: Pro journalists were paired with student journalists for five-minute networking “dates.”
Hosted by: Utah Headliners, Region 9

Self-defense workshop: A training session co-sponsored for protecting against online harassment and self-defense
Hosted by: Los Angeles, Region 11

Virtual reality: A training session on how to produce 360 video, including equipment and software
Hosted by: Los Angeles, Region 11

Leadership dinner: A gathering with presidents and vice presidents from 11 local journalist organizations, to share information and collaborate more often
Hosted by: Los Angeles, Region 11

Video editing workshop: How to use iMovie to create short videos
Hosted by: Los Angeles, Region 11

Grade the Media: Panelists central to the year’s top stories discuss what the media got right or wrong. Panelists grade coverage.
Hosted by: San Diego, Region 11

Lawyers and judges: With Bar Association, teach lawyers and judges about journalism ethics
Hosted by: San Diego, Region 11

Sunshine Awards: Honoring local agencies that did the most or least to promote transparency
Hosted by: San Diego, Region 11

Vigil: Held a vigil in a park to honor the victims of the Capital Gazette shootings. Leaders of other journalism groups spoke. Event was covered on TV and newspapers.
Hosted by: Valley of the Sun, Region 11

Scoops: “Get the Scoop ... and Check the Facts” program visited several college campuses for ice cream socials to talk about journalism skills. Each attendee got an Arkansas SPJ ice cream scoop, which the chapter ordered through an SPJ chapter grant.
Hosted by: Arkansas, Region 12

Camera: Bought a $200 water-resistant, shockproof camera for an elementary school that started its own newspaper
Hosted by: Arkansas, Region 12

Armbands: Through a grant, provided 1,000 scholastic and college journalists, educators and SPJ members armbands to honor 50th anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court’s Tinker decision
Hosted by: Arkansas, Region 12

Ugly sweaters: A networking event with an ugly sweater contest
Hosted by: Arkansas, Region 12

Legislative luncheon: To give journalists and the public a preview of bills planned for the next legislative session
Hosted by: East Tennessee, Region 12

Ethics lecture series: Chapter members gave eight different lectures on ethics to about 280 college journalism students
Hosted by: Northwest Arkansas, Region 12

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Fundraising ideas

Many chapters raise money in conjunction with restaurants that donate a portion of their proceeds during a certain period. Here are some other ideas, compiled from 2019 annual reports.

Campus chapter fundraisers

Food sales: Hot chocolate and hot cider at a soccer game
Roger Williams University, Region 1

Weekend concession stand at city’s youth soccer facility
Harding University, Region 12

T-shirts: Sold 138 shirts, raising $873.
James Madison University, Region 2

Sales of #NotTheEnemy shirts raised $2,500 for Capital Gazette Families Fund
James Madison University, Region 2

Has the franchise for printing homecoming shirts, raising $700
Campbellsville University, Region 5

Giving Day: appealed to alumni during university fundraising campaign
Salisbury University, Region 2

Finals baskets: Invite all parents of journalism school students to order a food basket, a “Facts Matter” shirt or both before final exams. Sold more than 50 baskets this year. Also, a late-night bake sale.
University of Maryland, Region 2

Bake sale: learn your First Amendment rights while you buy, with handouts
Winthrop University, Region 3

Posters: Sales of posters signed by a prominent journalist who spoke on campus
Ohio University, Region 4

Dance marathon: Bobcathon, a 12-hour dance marathon. Raised $800 for Ronald McDonald House
Ohio University, Region 4

Headshots: A fee (for non-members) to get a professional headshot
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Region 5

“Pie a Professor”
Cal Poly Pomona, Region 11

Pencils: Sold scented pencils
University of Arizona, Region 11

Pro chapter fundraisers

T-shirt sales
Connecticut, Region 1

“Words Matter” shirts
Greater Cincinnati, Region 4

To benefit Capital Gazette families
Arkansas Pro, Region 12

Poetry: A poetry reading fundraiser at the birthplace home of Walt Whitman, with wine and cheese. Readers paid a fee to present their original poetry. Proceeds went to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Press Club of Long Island, Region 1

Baseball: A raffle for donated Washington Nationals tickets
Washington, D.C., Region 2

Job fair: Tickets were sold for a freelance job fair, raising $940
Georgia, Region 3

For laid-off journalists: With other journalism groups, an event at a bar to raise money for journalists who lost their job
Detroit, Region 4

Holiday party and raffle: With the Wisconsin capitol press corps. Each year, raffle proceeds are given to a journalism fund or group. This year, $900 was raised for the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Madison, Region 6

Holiday party, with a silent auction and raffle: Half of the proceeds go to the chapter and half to a network with a hospital and medical clinics. Party attendees bring used books and magazines for the library serving the clinics and hospital.
Fort Worth, Region 8

Trivia Bowl: Jeopardy!-style competition on FOI, journalism history and more. A fundraiser for Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
San Antonio, Region 8

Crowdfunding: Used GoFundMe to raise $3,136 to help student journalists from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University travel to Las Vegas to cover the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Part of the money was not used and will be available for next year.
Rio Grande, Region 9)

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Florida out front

The Florida Pro chapter is among the most innovative in the country. Check out its programs — then follow the links to learn more. Interested in learning more? Contact Michael Koretzky at michael@koretzky.com.

Ethics Hold'em

What you do: Play poker with specially printed decks of cards. The faces of the cards have entries from SPJ’s Code of Ethics. Because there are fewer entries than there are cards, some are repeated. Players get 100 extra chips for every match they find — which means greed isn’t only good, it’s ethical.

What you get: A couple free decks mailed to you and a copy of the rules you can change at a whim.


What you do: Host a halal lunch at a local mosque, where journalists and Muslim community members will discuss how we cover Islam here and abroad.

What you get: Through a partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, we can introduce you to leaders of the nearest mosque and help you defray the cost of lunch. We can also show you agendas and share slide decks from other Muslimedias around the country, so you can tailor your own lunch to suit your needs.

Zombie Stories

What you do: Teach better interviewing tactics by employing zombies. Each participant get a free white Zombie Stories T-shirt, and if they ask a zombie a dumb question, they get doused in fake (?) blood. The least soiled interviewer wins a $50 gift certificate.

What you get: As many T-shirts as you need shipped to you, help finding makeup artists in your area, other logistical help, and the $50 gift certificate for free.

Death Race

What you do: Fake a death in funeral home and teach journalists how to best write an obituary. The winner, as determined by the “corpse,” gets a trophy — a funeral urn with the words “Death Race” on it. Inside are the ashes of the local newspaper.

What you get: Help finding the funeral home. (We now have experience doing this.) We’ll also ship you the funeral urn trophy.

First Amendment Free Food Festival

What you do: Offer high school or college students a free lunch in exchange for signing away their First Amendment rights. What could go wrong?

What you get: Free full-color T-shirts for your enforcers and all collateral needed for this award-winning event, which has been featured on the national news and done on more than two dozen campuses across the country.

Sin And Win

What you do: Advise a high school or college newspaper to violate as many entries as possible in SPJ’s Code of Ethics, publishing the results in print or online. Along the way, you educate readers about how journalism ethics really work — and what the world would look like without them.

What you get: As usual, any logistical help you need. Plus, the best effort during each calendar year, as determined by a panel of SPJ leaders, receives a $100 pizza party.

Drone Tour

What you do: Recruit at least 20 local journalists — high school, college, or pro — who want to learn more about drone journalism. Every year, we send certified drone pilots who happen to be a journalists to your area, where they’ll show you exactly what you can do — because you’ll fly a drone and record footage with their help.

What you get: A free visit from a pilot/journalist with their drone to play with.

One Night Stand

What you do: Go old-school and assemble competitive “zines.” If that doesn’t make sense, this might: Pit two teams of weary journalists against each other and let them do something creative using no computers. Feed them along the way, and watch them smile.

What you get: Zine materials shipped to your door and the usual help setting up the day (and/or night, depending on your mood).

Team Speed Scrabble

What you do: Pair two journalists who don’t know each other on teams, who must play a Scrabble game with a mere 30-second time limit to put down a word. Blow deadline and lose your turn. This is a quick way to make mixers and receptions less awkward, and it’s better than most corny icebreakers.

What you get: Instructions for the game.

All on Paper

What you do: A college newspaper publishes an entire issue using no computers, documenting the painful process every step of the way. Instead of learning about the history of journalism, students live it.

What you get: Typewriters and photo enlarger, chemicals, and paper shipped to you at cost, as long as you promise to ship them to the next participant. And of course, all the logistical help you need.

News Swap (coming soon)

What you do: p a student newspaper turn over a web or print edition to its sources, where they’ll get hands-on publishing experience with you acting as journalism adviser. After all, the best way to learn about a free press is to run one.

What you get: Besides the usual logistical assistance, you can apply for a grant to defray the cost of providing lunch for those who will work in the newsroom.

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