Planning and Funding Your Trip
Our annual international convention is the ultimate Sigma Tau Delta experience—a truly unique and amazing opportunity to spend four event-filled days with over 1,100 students, faculty, and respected authors who share your love of English! To make it possible for our chapters to send multiple attendees, we work hard to keep convention expenses low and to offer a number of discounts and reimbursements. We encourage Sponsors to plan early to 1) solicit travel funds, 2) take advantage of Society discounts and reimbursement opportunities, and 3) explore cost saving strategies to minimize travel expenses.
A Chapter Sponsor can often solicit funds from the English Department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Student Government, Student Affairs, Dean, Provost, President, and chapter alumni.
Longtime Sponsor, Dr. Robert Halli at The University of Alabama, recommends," You increase your chances for success in soliciting funds from campus sources if you can convince these sources it is to their benefit to give you funds—that they will get more out of it in publicity and prestige than they invest in capital." We offer some suggestions for Sponsors seeking campus funding:
- Ask early! Even before you know how many of your students have been accepted to present, you will know how many students have submitted, so you can secure a pledge for support before other organizations request the funds.
- Prepare the way for your request by calling to the attention of potential donors if students from your chapter attended previous conventions and if they earned any awards at the convention, thus garnering publicity and prestige for the campus.
- Be specific! Make an itemized spreadsheet listing the projected costs (e.g., food, lodging, transportation, registration fees, etc.). Donors want to know where their money is going.
- Subtract the amount of money your chapter has raised (or is projecting to raise through planned fundraisers) to show that your chapter is making a strong commitment to going to the convention.
- Let the spreadsheet reflect the individual contributions made by students (e.g., deposits in a chapter account, pre-registration payments, etc.) in order to demonstrate student commitment.
- Make it clear exactly how much money it will take to get students to the convention, and divide this out per person. The amount will look more reasonable when administrators and other supporters can see how much each person will require to attend the convention.
- Specifics help sell your request. As soon as you hear who has been accepted to present, make a list of students presenting papers or serving on roundtables; include paper/roundtable titles.
- Make a list of students who are chairing sessions and include these titles as well.
- You might also want to list details about the individual students (other leadership roles on campus, recent or impressive awards or honors, or officer positions within the chapter).
- Deliver your requests in person, and consider taking a couple of chapter leaders along when you make the requests—it is much harder for your Dean to tell a student face to face that he cannot support student travel to present at an international convention or for your Provost to tell you that she will "look into it."
Fundraising is a necessary activity for every Sigma Tau Delta chapter, not just to get funding to attend the convention. However, the opportunity to attend and present at the convention can generate renewed enthusiasm and creativity for fundraising. Chapters and chapter leaders have a number of resources for obtaining funding.
Have a Fundraising Event
For ideas visit Chapter Life: Fundraising.
Apply for Awards
Hold a Common Reader Event
Each Regent offers $100 for up to 10 chapters in the region to hold an activity connected to the Common Reader, From Sand Creek. The eligible activities are many, and the application is brief and simple: Regents Common Reader Awards.
Help Members Revise Submissions
More than $10,000 will be given in awards for the best works presented at the convention. The best of the submitted works are considered for these convention awards, so take the time as a chapter to help each other revise those submissions before members send them in. Help each other to put the best work forward.
Make Use of Hotel Group Discount
Make your hotel reservations no later than February 24, 2015, and be sure to ask for Sigma Tau Delta's special convention rates. These rates will be available until February 24 or until our room block is full. Make your reservations early so you can make sure your group gets the rooms needed!
Earn the Voting Delegate Reimbursement
Each attending chapter will receive a reimbursement check of $200 ($400 for chapters outside of the continental U.S.) if the chapter sends a voting student delegate to 1) the General Business Meeting (Friday), and 2) the chapter's Regional Caucus (Friday). Checks are mailed shortly after the convention.
To receive a reimbursement check, the official voting student delegate must complete a form provided at the General Business Meeting on Friday and return it at the Regional Caucus following the General Business Meeting. The official voting delegate (a) must be a student member and (b) must attend and participate in both the General Business Meeting and the chapter’s Regional Caucus. Chapters should decide ahead of time whether the $200/$400 should be used by the chapter’s student delegate for his/her expenses or whether the money should be returned to the chapter treasury. Checks will be sent from the Central Office shortly after the convention. It is customary for delegates to provide their home chapters with a report on the convention (the business, the sessions, etc.).
Sell Chapter Merchandise at the Convention
- Bring chapter T-shirts and other merchandise to sell at the convention. At past conventions, chapters have sold all sorts of items—from shirts, tote-bags, bookmarks, and buttons, to red and black hair pieces and accessories to wear to the Gala. Get your most creative minds together and see what you can come up with. You might be surprised how much money you can raise. Tables will be available all morning on Friday and Saturday, so you will have ample opportunity to sell your wares.
- Create a skit to promote your T-shirt and enter the Dry T-shirt Skit Competition. This will help you advertise your products, and you might even win a small prize.
To make the most of your travel funds, consider the following suggestions:
Revise Your Submission
It pays, literally, to submit your best paper or creative work. Not only does revision make acceptance more likely, but revision could lead to your work being considered for one of the convention awards. More than $10,000 will be given for the best works presented at the convention. The judging, however, is of works as submitted, not works as presented. So seek constructive criticism for your proposed submission from professors and colleagues, and then revise until what you submit is absolutely the best you can do.
Work With Sponsor and Chapter
- Meet with your Sponsor as soon as you decide to send in a submission, and offer to help your Sponsor solicit campus funding. Keep your Sponsor informed on the progress of your submission.
- Ask your Sponsor and fellow chapter members to review early and often the work you are preparing to submit. You will want to do everything you can to revise your work so that what you submit is convention award material.
Use Early Registration Discount
Register before January 26, 2015, to take advantage of the early registration fee.
Share Hotel Rooms
- Room together—the more the merrier—and cheaper!
- If you have an odd number of people, even it out by finding other Sigma Tau Deltans interested in sharing a room. Contact the Central Office if you need assistance. Convention roommates are a great way to save money and make lasting friendships.
Explore Travel Options
- Consider whether the cost of driving as a group is cheaper than flying. Driving may not be the fastest way to travel, but it might make it possible for more of your members to attend the convention.
- Look at the possibility of traveling by train. If you have the time, you can take the train for almost half the cost of flying. Amtrak offers group rates and student rates. Savannah lies on the Silver Service/Palmetto line that runs from New York to Tampa/Miami.
- Explore websites devoted to discounted flights: Priceline.com, Kayak.com, Expedia.com, CheapAir.com, etc.
Apply for Awards and Scholarships
In addition to the chapter awards and the convention awards, Sigma Tau Delta gives away thousands of dollars each year for individual awards, and nearly $80,000 in individual scholarships. Work with your Sponsor and other faculty in revising your applications for individual awards and scholarships.
Eating out every meal for several days can be costly. Yes, it can be tempting to go out on the town, but being smart about your food budget can mean extra cash for other travel expenses, or for T-shirts, books, and/or other souvenirs.
- Be resourceful. If at all possible, bring food with you from home. Stash a box of granola bars in your suitcase. Pack a sandwich for your trip out. If you’re driving, fill a cooler with breakfast and lunch items. If you’re flying, consider making a stop at a grocery store or pharmacy once onsite to stock up on crackers, drinks, and other food items. If you are taking the train, bring your own food and beverages to avoid the costlier food sold in the dining and cafe cars.
- Bring some watertight zippered plastic bags for keeping perishable food on ice in the hotel room.
- Avoid room service, and be wary of any extra taxes in the hotel restaurant.
- Choose the fast-food and cafeteria-style options within walking distance of the convention hotel that provide a variety of inexpensive options.
- Take advantage of coupons and special rates on sites like Groupon.com and Restaurant.com.
- If you do want to have one or two nights out, plan them in advance and try to choose restaurants that offer some lower-priced options.
- Consider splitting meals if the prices are high, or bring back leftovers to snack on later.
- Register for the member discounted banquet dinner during Saturday night’s Red and Black Gala.