MyStudentBody - Nine Ways to Fund Your Program

Nine Ways to Fund Your Program

A one dollar bill

Although drug, alcohol, and violence prevention is increasingly recognized as an essential part of campus programming, finding room in the budget can be an annual headache. Reducing the uncertainty of the budget process requires long-term, cross-departmental policy support and long-term financial planning. At some colleges, you may have to think like a development officer when planning your activities, tailoring some of your plans to appeal to likely funding sources. You should also pay attention to external funding sources and their priorities, to take advantage of grants and other outside support for which your programs may qualify. The better you plan, the more opportunities you will have to find funding; take the long-term approach.

Funding Sources Within Your Institution

  • Joint funding with other departments. Substance abuse problems on campus can affect departments and groups throughout your college or university. Some of the affected areas may include health services, academic counseling, admissions, campus security, residential life, fraternities and sororities, and athletics. A coordinated prevention program can draw budget support from all of these groups. Coordination among the various areas can also make for a more effective, consistent policy message.
  • Student fees. Alcohol, drugs, and violence affect the quality of life for all students, so it's reasonable to expect that student fees will provide some funding for prevention programming. Although raising student fees to cover prevention programming can be controversial, it may find support on campuses where substance use has been identified as a particular problem. Some good candidates for programs that could be funded by student fees include campus-wide alcohol-free events, ongoing alcohol-free coffeehouses, and other initiatives where the prevention goal is coupled with an activity or immediate benefit.
  • Party-related fees and fines. You can generate funds for prevention programs through fees and fines that also reinforce a prevention message. For example, you could institute a charge to register on-campus parties, and/or you could establish fines for violating alcohol and drug policies (such as hosting an unregistered party or serving alcohol to minors).
  • Alumni donations. You could solicit alumni donations, or provide an option in alumni fundraising initiatives to earmark donations for prevention activities. Although there may be some alumni with fond memories of undergraduate excess, many others will have dealt with substance abuse either in their own lives or with loved ones; they will appreciate the opportunity to donate to prevention efforts. Your campus development office may be able to help you identify alumni who are interested in these issues.
  • Discretionary funds. Senior administrators and academic department chairs typically have discretionary funds. When planning specific events or activities, be alert to possible connections within academic or administrative departments that might appropriately be asked for discretionary support.

External Funding Sources

  • Public funding. Government agencies and departments have an interest in promoting health, safety, and education; their charge extends to the prevention of alcohol abuse. They are an especially good resource for funding if you are investigating new prevention strategies or evaluating a new or existing program. The U.S. Department of Education, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), state health departments, and state alcohol beverage control boards may provide funding for college alcohol-abuse prevention programs. The Governor's office in your state may also have discretionary funds or information on state funding options.
  • Corporate donations. Corporations also make donations to improve their communities, and a local company may have an interest in health promotion or in connecting with your college and its students. This is another area where your campus development office can help.
  • Foundation grants. Foundations generally won't provide funding for regular, ongoing operations—they are more likely to support the development and evaluation of new programs. That makes them a good resource when you want to try something new, or would like to demonstrate the effectiveness of your efforts (which can help your case at budget time). Securing funds from foundations relies on successful grant writing, with explicit goals, methods, and mechanisms to evaluate success.

Funding Proposals

Whether you're seeking a foundation grant, hoping for a shot at a department's discretionary fund, or just fighting to keep last year's budget allocation, you need to present a good proposal. The development office can be helpful when you are applying for formal external grants, corporate donations, and alumni appeals. But there are two key elements of a good proposal that can improve your chances of being funded no matter what the source: a coherent plan of action, and an appeal to the needs of the funder. Your proposal should target a specific problem and offer a plan of action that will lead to a measurable result. The goals and tactics of your program should be directly related to the problem and the result. Your proposals will be more likely to succeed when they reflect the potential funders' areas of interest and objectives. And since donors at all levels want recognition for the projects they support, be sure to include a strategy for evaluating and disseminating your results.

Grant Resources

Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education 

Grants (home page), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 

Funding Sources for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research & Other Projects, Alcohol Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington 

Grantmakers in Health 

The Foundation Center (possible subscription fee) 


American Medical Association (AMA). (2002). Partner or foe? The alcohol industry, youth alcohol problems, and alcohol policy strategies. Retrieved November 1, 2011 from 

DeJong W. and Davidson L. (2000). Building long-term support for alcohol and other drug prevention programs. Retrieved November 1, 2011 from 

Wechsler H, Seibring M, Liu I, and Ahl M. (2004, January/February). Colleges respond to student binge drinking: Reducing student demand or limiting access. Journal of American College Health, 52(4), 159-169.