How do you do it?

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How do you do it?

Postby ericblair » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:18 pm

I just mentioned in a post in the COTKU discussion that financial issues are the biggest turn-offs for my going to tournaments. Fortunately, my teammate and I (we were an open team) were able to ride with and crash with Georgetown College, which saved us tons of money. However, I don't know other teams who go to tournaments frequently well enough to ask such a favor. Some of you guys go to tournaments very often and from what I gather aren't always sponsored by a school (which is also my situation). Do you all make prior arrangements to maybe crash with other teams or hitch rides or anything else of the sort? Do you stay in houses with people you know in the city where the tournament is held? Or do you just grit your teeth and shell out the money for hotels, plane tickets, entre fees, gas, etc?

I really want to go to more tournaments, but it is just so damn hard. If you guys have any good ideas I'd love to hear them. Thanks.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby dtaylor4 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:36 pm

Depending on who's hosting, some individuals (myself included) are amenable to hosting players for a night. I'd suggest emailing the TD and asking if he/she or any teammates have the space and are willing to do so.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:24 pm

ericblair wrote:Some of you guys go to tournaments very often and from what I gather aren't always sponsored by a school (which is also my situation). Do you all make prior arrangements to maybe crash with other teams or hitch rides or anything else of the sort? Do you stay in houses with people you know in the city where the tournament is held? Or do you just grit your teeth and shell out the money for hotels, plane tickets, entry fees, gas, etc?


I crash with friends whenever possible, and usually they're quite accommodating. Also, I use trains whenever possible, as they are super-cheap - friends are also very helpful at helping me navigate the metro system or whatever. It helps that Jerry has a car, so occasionally we'll make a trek that way.

For entry fees and plane tickets, usually I just grit my teeth and shell it out. I've been kind of fortunate that my job pays just enough to cover one or two trips every year, and that my parents think quizbowl is the greatest @#$% thing ever.

Also the school gives us no money, so we're in the same boat as you all.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby vandyhawk » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:44 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Also, I use trains whenever possible


Trains = not very possible in the southeast unfortunately.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby BuzzerZen » Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:21 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Also the school gives us no money, so we're in the same boat as you all.

How come? Have you ever asked for money? Or are you just not eager to deal with your student activities people?
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:44 am

BuzzerZen wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Also the school gives us no money, so we're in the same boat as you all.

How come? Have you ever asked for money? Or are you just not eager to deal with your student activities people?


We have asked for money; they shot us down.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby bsmith » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:46 am

BuzzerZen wrote:How come? Have you ever asked for money? Or are you just not eager to deal with your student activities people?

No money from the student federation here. Subsidies are only provided for "events"; a loose definition that covers anything run by the club that's open to the student body. "Events" are supposed to be on-campus, but they give out money to fund trips. Problem is, our trips/tournaments are not "open to all students at the University of Ottawa" because the events are not accessible to French students! After a nasty audit and reprimand after an ICT trip, I'm not going back to them for money until there's an overhaul of the subsidy program.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby wd4gdz » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:09 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
ericblair wrote:Also the school gives us no money, so we're in the same boat as you all.


Just steal a PCR machine and sell it on eBay, dude.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:15 pm

Someone already did that with a confocal microscope objective. I think my boss would kill someone if anything else went missing.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby vandyhawk » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:45 am

Student Activity Fund allocations for '08-'09 at Vandy:

Quizbowl - $750
Model UN - $22,000

My mind has been thoroughly boggled in the last few years as to how this happens. Not so much the fact that we only got $750 (which is better than $500 last year and $0 before that), but that Model UN can get damn $22,000. Their club is only like 5 years old too.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby Deckard Cain » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:51 am

And from Missouri S&T:

American Indian Science and Engineering Society - $7200
Academic Competition Organization - $128

Something else that you could try is explaining your situation to tournament directors - I know I have always been willing to work with teams in tough financial situations, and I can't imagine I'm alone in this regard.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby QuizBowlRonin » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:50 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Someone already did that with a confocal microscope objective. I think my boss would kill someone if anything else went missing.


Pretty Pictures vs. Twenty Years of Quizbowl

I know which one I'd pick.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby Captain Sinico » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:37 am

I just wanted to note that, in my experience, orgs. get money by forming connections with the people giving out the money and leveraging them. I'd like to take our situation as an example - I'm not sure how applicable this will be to your own situations, but I hope it will be to some useful extent.
At Illinois, we've got a board of several students (none of whom I think we know this time) and a dean (whom we know pretty well and have traded some favors with) that hands out the vast majority of our cash. I imagine there are similar structures at most other institutions. This structure basically divides the organizations into three groups.
The best-funded organizations represent enough members or are constituents of a large enough voting bloc (e.g. frats/sororities, larger ethnic groups, entire colleges of the university, etc.) that they have a member of their own or of an allied organization on the board. Those are usually the groups getting tens of thousands of dollars. As a small organization by Illinois standards and one not representing any strong identity, we're not in this class.
The next class are groups that have some connections on the board. We're in this class - we know the dean well and sometimes know one or more of the student board members. For this and other reasons, most of our funding proposals fly at this point, so we get several thousand dollars each year at this point, which is great. I think most teams would be quite pleased with this.
Finally, there's everyone else who get nothing or effectively nothing. Until a few years ago, when we forged these connections, that's where we were and it sounds like that's a where a lot of you are, too.
So, pursuant to that, I'd like to make some suggestions on how to get more funding. The first thing I'd suggest that you never stop trying. Year-to-year funding levels are extremely sticky, so if you can just once get over the hump and get significant money, you should be able to ride that for a while, maybe forever. Request as much money as you think you'll be able to spend in any given year, or as much as you can - the worst they can do is say no.
The second is to ingratiate your team by whatever means possible with any permanent members of whatever boards hand out your money. That has done wonders for us. Believe it or not, my experience is that quizbowl is actually a much more meritorious expenditure of this school's money than most things that request or receive funding. If you can show the right people that this is the case, you will immediately find your fortunes changing. Also remember that control is usually a matter of politics, generally academic and often student, which will inevitably be stupid and petty, so you don't want to focus on any single result, just on the overall funding level.
The third is to aggregate your influence with similar-minded organizations. Contact your uber-funded Model U.N. or your Indian Quizzing Team or whatever else you might have and see if they don't want to throw their lots in with you to go after a bigger piece of the pie. You can maybe make an umbrella organization that represents a lot more people and more diverse interests. Maybe you can even get enough influence to get someone elected to a committee or whatever; you're in funding heaven at that point. I tried this at Illinois with no success - I'm not sure why, but the couple other academic competition organizations I could find (like Model U.N. etc.) had no interest. However, noted best-funded anything anywhere Chicago leverages this strategy and I'm convinced it's the best one.
The last thing I'd like to suggest is that you seek out other sources of funding. Often there are other bodies and offices within a university that have discretionary funds that can be disbursed to organizations. For example, I once attempted to implement a scheme to get money from our very well-funded Engineering Council, which represents the engineering-related organizations and is itself a class-one organization in the above hierarchy, perhaps in exchange for our running a small engineering bowl tournament (unfortunately, this fell though in the end.) For another example, we've been able several times to get additional travel funding for national tournaments from the Office of the Provost. University hotshots like Provosts and Deans eat-up stories like "We're a bunch of smart people wanting to represent your university in a national smart-people contest if we can only find the funding." Also, I assume this point is obvious, but you should run tournaments if you have the facility to do so and make as much of your own money as possible.

Hope that helps,
MaS
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby fleurdelivre » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:53 am

Finally, there's the option of fundraising from other sources. The student org people never gave us money at Vandy, but hosting ABC twice a year covered our own competition and travel costs pretty effectively...not that this is much help if you don't have a large enough organization to do this (or are not a student).

Eric, I've made friends in the quiz bowl community. I don't stay in hotels when I travel for tournaments - I crash on people's couches (or on the floor in other people's hotel rooms). If you help staff some events, you're also likely to build up loyalty points for additional discounts at other tournaments hosted by the same people. Moderate high school tourneys and you'll find a lot of TDs willing to negotiate when you want to attend their next open event. This isn't a huge money-making venture, so most people will be willing to help you out if you're willing to repay the favors.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby QuizBowlRonin » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:25 pm

Captain Scipio wrote:I just wanted to note that, in my experience, orgs. get money by forming connections with the people giving out the money and leveraging them. I'd like to take our situation as an example - I'm not sure how applicable this will be to your own situations, but I hope it will be to some useful extent.
<snip>
Hope that helps,
MaS


I agree with this entire post. Just note that UIUC has a long and storied history of success which one can point. New programs will not have this when convincing receptive deans to fork over cash.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby vandyhawk » Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:30 pm

As Katy pointed out, we haven't pursued oodles of money since ABC supplied us with sufficient money such that we never paid any out of pocket expenses. At one point, we even got reimbursed for mileage for driving to tournaments, but when more people started going, we dropped that to just gas. I think Sorice's points are quite true though. Our financial guy in the student life office said he thinks that Model UN got so much money b/c they made a big deal about how they beat a bunch of Ivy League teams at a national thing once. Well, we tried to make it known through our applications the last couple years that we have also done this, but I'm left to believe that they clearly knew people on the student finance committee. This committee is almost entirely student run, with minimal staff oversight, changes its structure seemingly every year, and is always subject to controversy after allocations are revealed. I'm not really sure what we would do with all that money anyway - maybe everyone gets his/her own hotel room, and said hotel is like the Ritz...
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby cvdwightw » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:28 pm

Man, even when club officers knew people on the council and people knew deans, we barely got anything at UCLA (we got airfare to Hartford for CBI Nationals, and that was about it from 2005-2007). UCLA makes people apply for an "operating budget", which always benefits the gigantic clubs who run the same things every year and need all sorts of money for "supplies", plus until recently the student government was dominated by the cultural club slate and didn't give money to non-cultural clubs. Finally the political groups, the Greeks, and a few assorted large clubs that got shafted by the cultural-club slate fought back and won a majority for like the first time in 15 years, but I think that there's a lot of bitterness on both sides of the student government to the point where I'm not sure the UCLA club even wants to bother trying to navigate through that minefield.

Even though one of our officers is in good with someone in some office that's influential in deciding where money is spent, UCI has very little money for student groups and almost never gives it for something that involves traveling. We kicked around the idea of applying for funding to run an IM tournament but never got around to it. Plus, I think there's some archaic rule that the money has to go to the club's ASUCI account which is almost impossible to get money into or, more importantly, out of.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby Captain Sinico » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:01 pm

I hear your point, Jason, but I've actually found that our historical success (in terms of winning and losing) isn't of much interest to the people at the purse-strings. When they're right-thinking, they define success as what gets the most students entertained the most, or what's going to make the students or school look good in the very short term. When they're wrong-thinking, well, you'd better pray you've got a member on that board... Either way, the fact that your team has won in the past, if it has, is decidedly secondary, though I suppose it can't hurt.

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Re: How do you do it?

Postby cchiego » Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:02 am

Knowing people definitely helps. I've sat on a number of these committees before and it amazes me how easily personal connections get parlayed into funding increases. Even more astounding, most people on the committee don't question those connections; it's like they're all hypnotized and obey any suggestion made.

If you don't know anyone, it helps to have examples of good publicity like a student newspaper article or nice shiny trophies that you can display in a public area. It might help too to try to expand the program and demonstrate that the $$ isn't just going to the same 4-5 students, but 20-25 or so. Mention the benefits of having high schoolers come to campus and see if you can't get something set up through the admissions office; I know our Model UN team uses that argument effectively.

Competition between rivals is also a great way to procure funding. When we found out Alabama's team receives around $10,000 from their Honors College, we were only too happy to tell our own Honors Program about that, which resulted in a generous (though nothing close to 10k) chunk of funding.

Also, if you do get funding, don't blow it. When you have a scandal of some kind- ineligible people in charge, lateness in paying rental fees, $$ going to questionable uses, lack of record keeping, etc., the stain is almost impossible to wipe off. If you give them any excuse to take $$ away, they will, so be careful.

I do think Eric's original point was about how does someone not affiliated with a school anymore do it; if that's the case, I guess hitching rides with current teams and trying to crash on floors makes the most sense.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby QuizBowlRonin » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:17 am

uga_chris wrote:Competition between rivals is also a great way to procure funding. When we found out Alabama's team receives around $10,000 from their Honors College, we were only too happy to tell our own Honors Program about that, which resulted in a generous (though nothing close to 10k) chunk of funding.


:w-hat:

Good god. Adam Pinson and I approached folks at our Honors Program and were flatly turned down. This information might have been useful a few years ago.
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby Captain Sinico » Wed Oct 29, 2008 10:27 am

Those are all very solid points Chris is making and I'd have said them myself if I'd thought of them.

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Re: How do you do it?

Postby grapesmoker » Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:10 pm

Judging by this thread, I should tell Brown that Harvard Quizbowl gets $10,000 from their student government. No way they won't fund us then!
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Re: How do you do it?

Postby ericblair » Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:40 pm

uga_chris wrote:I do think Eric's original point was about how does someone not affiliated with a school anymore do it; if that's the case, I guess hitching rides with current teams and trying to crash on floors makes the most sense.


It's quite all right. This thread has been very useful, even the stuff about politicking in universities. Perhaps I will get to use the techniques when grad school time comes around. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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