The Washington Journalism and Media Conference


Attending the Washington Journalism and Media Conference is an amazing experience, and is well worth the commitment of your time and resources. Many families fundraise to earn tuition to attend the conference. To be a successful fundraiser, you will need to be resourceful and organized. Dedicate your available free time, and plan your strategy in advance. This guide will help you be a more successful leader and will ultimately yield a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you reach your fundraising goals. Remember, start early, plan ahead and use all of your resources. Good luck and have fun!

5 Steps to Successful Fundraising:

  1. Set Your Goal
  2. Identify Your Potential Sponsors
  3. Personalize your Plan
  4. Follow Up
  5. Acknowledge and thank your Donors

The best place to begin your fundraising is to figure out exactly what you need. The easiest way to do this is to start with a budget. Use this sample worksheet to determine what funds you really need to raise. Think about what contributions you or your family will make and what financial assistance may come from your school, your church, your extended family, and your community.

Budget Worksheet:

Your Conference Costs
Conference Tuition$2450.00
Travel (airfare, train, etc..)+
Incidentals (souvenirs, meals while traveling)+
Total Conference Costs=
Available Funds 
Your Savings 
Family contributions+
Total Available Funds=
Sponsorship Funds Needed 
Conference Costs 
Available Funds
Required Sponsorship Funds=

Now that you have a better idea of what you have and what you need, you can start to make your plan and identify all the people and organizations that could sponsor you on this journey. First, start by making a list of all the people and organizations that could be potential sponsors. Think outside the box! The list will likely include family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, church members, local businesses, and other community groups. Don’t leave out your parents’ friends, co-workers, your doctor, your dentist, or anyone else in your life. Use the Sponsor Form to begin listing all of the individuals and companies you will contact.

Organizations to Consider:

  • Knights of Columbus
  • American Legion
  • PTA or PTO
  • Church and Temple groups
  • Alumni Associations
  • Junior Chamber of Commerce
  • Elks Clubs
  • Women’s Clubs
  • Local Political Organizations
  • Law Firms
  • School Board
  • Local Retail Stores
  • Car Dealerships
  • Restaurants

The most important part of any fundraising effort is to have a plan that works for you. Think about how you will approach the individuals and organizations. Take time to articulate your thoughts about why you want to attend WJMC and how hard you have worked to earn such a special recognition. You should put together information about yourself and the conference. Present this information to them so they see this as an opportunity to invest in you. Answer any questions they have. Included in this guide are Sample Letters and a Sponsor Sheet to use in your fundraising efforts.

A. Use Social Media Such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

Using social media can be a great way to tell your family, friends, and community about your commitment to attend WJMC.  Keep your friends updated on your progress as you go about asking businesses, community organizations, family, and friends for funds to attend the conference.  Share your excitement for WJMC and recognize those that have provided you with money or other gifts to get you to Washington, DC.  

Facebook has its own fundraising option called Facebook Fundraisers, where you can host a fundraising opportunity right on your page!

B. Use Crowd Funding sites

Using the power of online crowdfunding is a great way to raise funds by connecting with friends, family, neighbors, and others who are interested in supporting your journey to WJMC.  When using a crowdfunding source for fundraising:

  • Set a clear goal and deadline for fundraising
  • Be transparent- what will the funds go towards? Tuition, Airfare, Spending money?
  • Be clear about your purpose for attending WJMC, including your interests and goals for the future
  • Provide information for people. Photos work best, and feel free to use our social media sites and link to our website!
  • Thank your donors publicly. Use a chat wall or other features on the crowdfunding site to post messages and thank those who help you on your journey!

Popular Crowdfunding sites include GoFundMe, GoGetFunding, FundRazr, Fundly, and Plumfund. Be sure to check out multiple platforms before choosing one so you can determine the best one for your goals!

C. Ask Friends and Family to Help

When soliciting family and friends you can call, email, send a letter or talk to them in person. They should be familiar with your academic achievements and often will be very supportive in helping you achieve your goal. Let them know how excited you are about the conference and tell them what an honor it is to be invited as a National Youth Correspondent. Those who know you well will likely be receptive to rewarding your success. If you get regular “gifts” from family members on your birthday or holiday, consider asking that it be an “early gift” donated to support your conference attendance.

D. Ask Businesses and Organizations

Your letter to businesses or organizations should be thoughtful, organized and concise. This could also be the start of a networking opportunity for future internships or job opportunities. Never underestimate the relationships you will build through fundraising. If possible, go in person to drop off your letter. You may have an opportunity to speak directly with the potential sponsor. Make sure you are poised and ready to talk about why this conference is so meaningful to you and what an honor it is to represent your state and school as a National Youth Correspondent. Dress professionally and take care with your appearance. Be prepared to give the following information:

  • Description of the conference
  • How you were selected to attend
  • Description of your academic achievements and career goals
  • How much money you will need

Tips for Speaking with Potential Sponsors:

  • Do your homework and target companies or business that have a reputation for supporting educational and community endeavors.
  • Start with the places that you and your family frequent (local restaurants, salons, retail shops, neighborhood businesses)
  • Dress Appropriately-remember you are asking them to make an investment in you!
  • Practice your “intro” with friends and family-don’t forget to make eye contact when speaking with a potential donor.
  • Create sponsorship levels for their donation (e.g. Bronze $25, Silver $50, Gold, $100).
  • Make your request clear and concise so they know exactly what you are asking for.
  • Bring a copy of your acceptance letter, and information about yourself and the conference. Make several copies so you can leave one with each company you visit.
  • Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged! Fundraising is hard, but rewarding work. There will be people who say, “No,” but don’t let them stop you from achieving your goal.

Also, don’t turn away any amount of sponsorship. In these economic times, many small donations can quickly add up to a large amount of support. Keep in mind that their donation is not tax-deductible and should not be represented as a tax deductible gift. Contributions made for a specific person do not qualify as tax deductible according to the rules of the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). Sponsorship checks should be made out to you, the individual student and not Washington Journalism and Media Conference.


If you are not able to make individual contact with a sponsor, make sure to follow up with a phone call or email in a few days. Reference the materials that were dropped off or mailed and ask if they need any additional information or have questions. Remind them that any donation amount is appreciated.

Press Release

Potential sponsors will want to know how they will benefit from making a donation. Let them know they will gain publicity when you reference their sponsorship in your press release. You may also mention their sponsorship if you have created a website or Blog for your conference journey. Offer to make a presentation about your experience when you return from the conference. Press releases will be distributed to you via email.

Collecting Contributions to the Conference

Inform any sponsors that all checks should be made payable to you, the individual, to support your conference registration and travel. Your final conference registration and tuition is due in full by June 1. Tuition is paid online by credit card.

Send an Immediate Thank You

After receiving a donation, immediately follow up with a thank you letter. If you are able, give them an update on your fundraising status and, of course, thank them for their generous donation, no matter the amount. 


After you return from the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, make sure to share your experience as a National Youth Correspondent with your sponsors. Send another thank you note highlighting your time in Washington, D.C. and what you learned. Consider adding a picture of you in D.C. or uploading conference photos onto a shared photo site or update your Facebook, Insta, or web page to inform your family, friends and donors what a difference they made helping you achieve your goal. Offer to do a presentation or slide show for any organization that is interested and encourage educators and mentors to consider nominating other deserving student leaders for the opportunity to attend a future WJMC.

By creating and implementing a successful fundraising campaign you are building leadership skills that will carry with you for the rest of your life. Sponsors will be impressed with your perseverance and follow-through. In turn, they will be more likely to sponsor other students in the future. Your dedication and hard work will pay off as you also pay it forward.

Best of luck in your fundraising efforts! We wish you much success and look forward to seeing you this summer.