Activism in College: How to Raise Funds and Awareness About T1D

One of the best things about attending college is that it allows you to become a true activist for type 1 diabetes awareness. Most colleges have a Greek system established that you can join, and many have philanthropic initiatives where you can create events to raise money. If you don’t want to join the Greek system, you can start your own campus club for people who are interested or contact your school’s office of student affairs to organize a walk, run, or bike ride to raise money for a cure. Charities and social causes are very popular on college campuses so there will be many interested young people ready to take action.

Find Your Local Chapter

Here are just some ideas for how you can help, either independently or with a fraternity or sorority:

Organize a walk, run, or bike ride for type 1 diabetes

On a nice spring day, people love to get out and exercise. Post fliers around campus and send an advertisement to your school’s newspaper a few weeks beforehand so that people know about the fundraiser. Pick a central location as a starting point, like a dining hall or activities center. Charge people $10 to participate and encourage them to get sponsors. Make sure that they know that the proceeds will go to JDRF to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. Lastly, offer a reward, like a donated gift certificate, for the people who come in first, second, and third in fundraising. Your local JDRF chapter can give you further ideas.

Have a local band perform a concert on campus to raise money

If you have friends that are musically inclined–maybe they are in a band or are majoring in music at school–figure out a way that they can perform on campus. You may have to get in touch with your school’s programs committee about a month in advance to ensure that you can have a space someplace on campus. Next, make sure that word gets around through fliers, the school newspaper, a Web site, and word-of-mouth. Charge a few dollars at the door and let the crowd know that their money is being well-spent.

Write an editorial about type 1 diabetes for your school’s newspaper

This is a great way to create type 1 diabetes awareness. It will definitely make people aware of a disease that they may know little to nothing about. Maybe something related to type 1 diabetes is going on in the news and you want to offer your opinion on it. Or you can share a day-in-the-life look at what it’s like to have type 1 diabetes.

Host a bake sale

Let’s face it. College kids love candy, brownies, cookies, etc. They especially like it when it’s cheap. Many clubs and sports teams hold bake sales to raise money, so you may have seen some already. Speak with your campus activities board about starting your own. Hang up colorful signs and banners to attract people’s attention. Recruit your friends to supply the food or chip in a few bucks to buy goodies at the supermarket.

Sponsor a dance-off competition

This is a great way to keep people active, laughing, and having a good time. To have a dance-off, you’ll need a large space, like a room in the student activities center or a large section of the parking lot. Get a table, hang up signs, and bring a loud boom-box along with your best dance and party mixes. Charge each participant $5 to sign up for the dance-off. It’s going to be a long day, so encourage people to bring water and food or provide some at the site. Offer the last person standing a cool hat, t-shirt, or gift certificate. This is a fabulous fundraising technique, and one that people will love to join and watch.

Get local businesses involved

In addition to recruiting the support of your school, your local community and businesses are a great resource for fundraising. Many restaurants offer coupons you can distribute where they donate a portion of a night’s proceeds to charities. Some places, like a community center or a cafe, will have space for you to hold events or meetings.
Hold a raffle: Get a group of fine art majors to create diabetes-inspired artwork, and raffle it off to raise funds for a cure. If your artists are concerned about making a commission on their talents, offer them a percentage of what people pay for their piece of art.

Raise your own awareness

Apply for a research-related internship or a study abroad program that will allow you to see how type 1 diabetes affects people all over the world.

Make it a career

Major in something that will allow you to study type 1 diabetes academically or pursue a career in public health. Possible majors include biology/pre-medicine, government/political science, communications, and public policy/public health.

Volunteer with your local JDRF Chapter

JDRF operates with the support of its volunteers. There are countless ways you can help your local chapter with annual events, like the Walk to Cure Diabetes and the Gala, or by mentoring local families. JDRF chapters often need people with diabetes to talk about their lives. Even if it’s just stuffing envelopes, the time and effort you spend will be greatly appreciated and rewarding.