The Course of Reason

Club Day at Grand Rapids Community College: Raffle to “Send an Atheist to Church”

November 3, 2010

CFI at GRCC gets creative at their campus Club Day to get some attention and raise money for a good cause.

Club Day. The day all the student organizations on campus merge in the commons to spread their particular brand of propaganda around and encourage students to support and join their group. For our club, CFI at GRCC, this fell on September 15th, 2010—and we were given only two days' notice. Thanks, Grand Rapids Community College.

This particular club day, Campus Activities decided to make things a little more interesting. Following the popular Facebook trend of "liking" something, they created "Like" tags (big thumbs up) that every student who walked around looking at the different tables would receive. These tags were to be placed on the table that the student "liked" the best—be it because of the organization, the display, or the fact that they were giving away free candy. The other catch? A prize of a co-sponsored event for the two clubs with the most "likes"—$200 for first place, and $150 for second.

With such a short time to prepare, and this added element, and the fact we could win some additional money for our club and our charity "Food For Freethought" event, we totally had to come up with something awesome to guarantee our win. Our initial idea was a raffle, but I had no money and no way to get anything, really. The day before the event, I managed to get donations of god Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, a $5 gift certificate to a local coffee place, and from our club advisor, a framed picture of Darwin and a copy of Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea. We put these together in a freethought bundle. That was one raffle, but I thought we needed a way to get attention from the people who would never join CFI but make up the majority of the school population. (West Michigan is predominately Christian Reform, and there are at least 15 churches within a few blocks of the college.)

The "Send An Atheist to Church" idea came from the Secular Student Alliance's webpage. I actually thought it up independently, did some digging on the Internet, and came across another campus that had done this type of event, structured differently, with good results. I called some of the other CFI@GRCC members to pitch the idea and myself, Mike Sharp, and Alyson Mabie offered ourselves up for auction.

Because our first event for the year (Food For Freethought) involves working with a non-profit food bank, we put up a donation box to go to the NPO in order for students to enter one of the two raffles. If students didn't have any money but wanted to enter, we asked them to give us their "like" sticker, since part of the money we'd receive would go towards this NPO if we won the contest. Many people did both!

I basically had a sign that said "Send an Atheist to Church" and screamed "SEND AN ATHEIST TO CHURCH FOR CHARITY!" to everyone that went past our booth. That was to get people over to our table, and I explained the raffle portion to people who were just interested in saving our souls and whatnot, and whomever was at the table with me explained what CFI was all about to interested parties and passed out literature and flyers with our meeting times, etc. It was a good strategy, and at the end of the day, we had 84 "likes" and a box full of money for Feeding America West Michigan.

It was great fun and I enjoyed being a little controversial for a good cause. We had a decent number of sign-ups from people interested in CFI On Campus as well, and a lot of good discussion with students throughout Club Day.

Resolution: We won second place for the most "likes", a hundred and fifty dollar prize for our club. First place went to StandOut, the LGBT alliance group on campus, which I found especially interesting considering where we live. :-)





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