For a comprehensive guide on how to start a CDA Chapter, browse our Chapter Resources.
The first step is to find a few individuals who are committed to Democratic ideals and beliefs who will form the core group of the CDA Chapter on campus. Once you form a core group, it is important to next discuss the following points of focus: purpose, commitment, creativity, enthusiasm, realism, and trust.
The next step is to definite the structure of the chapter by writing a constitution. A constitution will provide the chapter with its basic structure, offer guidelines for operations and elections, simplify the transfer of leadership, and establish some institutional legitimacy for the organization. The constitution should institutionalize the responsibilities of the core group by creating an executive board or officers of the chapter. The members of the executive board can include president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, membership and communications directors, among others. It is also important at this stage to register with CDA at www.collegedems.com and to register with your school through the student activities office.
Once the organizational structure of your chapter is formed, it’s important to advertise your group through publicity and outreach on your campus. It is also important to spread word of your organization through print, online and social media. Finally, you should engage the Democratic Network by reaching out to your state and local parties, and introduce yourself to local elected Democrats.
Fundraising can make or break your efforts for the year – make sure to stay organized, professional, and diligent in all of your fundraising efforts! To kick off your fundraising, package your message! Make your logo unique and memorable! Keep your letterhead and font professional and standard! Honorary Chairs provide credibility and support, a state-wide elected official will be helpful when it comes to fundraising. Make sure to specify how your organization can help them and how their accomplishments can help your organization. Fundraising letters are vital so remember to keep them professional yet personal (personal touches such as a picture will go a long way). Also, include what donations will be spent on, and don’t forget to include any applicable finance laws that will make the donating process easier for them. Write thank you notes to your donors because thanking them is polite, and will help make them recurring donors. A database should be created and updated frequently for whom fundraising letters should be sent to, such as: Elected Officials, Democratic candidates, Unions, Alumni of both your university and organization, and your State Party. It is important to plan ahead by building a budget so that you know how much to fundraise, and to stick to your budget. Stay on top of it with a detailed record of your revenues and expenditures. Build your budget with your absolute necessities first. You won’t be fundraising forever, so make sure to create a transition form for the new executive board. Remember, that the people handling your finances will change over the years, and things should be as easily accessible as possible (i.e. use a bank that can be found across your state).