Managing $1 Million for Mock Con Mock Con 2020 Financial Chair Elizabeth Thompson '20 works with the rest of the Financial Team to raise and manage significant sums for a successful event.
“We love meeting with alumni and parents from across the country and are grateful for their enthusiasm and support of Mock Convention 2020.”
~ Elizabeth Thompson, Mock Con 2020 Financial Chair
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Q: How and why did you get involved in Mock Con?
I was fortunate enough to attend Mock Convention 2016 as a senior in high school, and when I saw how elaborate and professional the event was, I knew that I wanted to get involved. After directing several fundraising efforts in high school, I was most interested and excited to coordinate the financial side of the organization. As a freshman, I learned that Mock Convention was one of the most prestigious events on campus, and the student-run, student-led aspect of it only further intrigued me. I have always wanted to be involved in an event that brings a greater community together, and Mock Convention was the perfect opportunity.
Q: What does your role in Mock Con entail?
As financial chair of Mock Convention, I oversee both the budget and fundraising of the organization.
Financial Controller Kaitlyn Brock ’20 and I create and manage the $1 million budget as well as oversee day-to-day purchases. From Walmart receipts to bigger line items like speaker contracts, we together manage all incoming and outgoing funds to maintain the financial security of not only this convention, but the next one as well. Each convention is not only responsible for making sure their cycle is a success, but is also responsible for ensuring a legacy of financial security for the next convention. Therefore, when we raise funds and budget for the year, we always make sure to keep the next convention in mind.
Fundraising Chair Parker Catlett ’20 and I work together to raise 21 percent of the Mock Convention budget. With the help of the donors, the organization is able to bring in top speakers who are able to give our students the best idea of what is going on in Washington D.C. right now. We also fundraise to be able to put on a convention that rivals the actual DNC in professionalism and caliber. Parker and I work together to contact every corner of the W&L community to gain not only funds, but also enthusiasm for the coming convention. We are so appreciative of our donors and truly could not put on the quality of events and offerings without their contributions.
Q: How do you raise the funds necessary to run everything? What has been your most successful method of fundraising?
To raise funds for the convention, we have used a variety of tactics for successful outreach. Parker and I have sent letters and emails to friends, family and alumni of the university and spearheaded a Phone-a-thon event with student leaders across all departments of Mock Convention. I have also presented to the Board of Trustees twice to raise awareness of the convention and this cycle’s unique efforts.
One of our most successful fundraising efforts has been our fundraising trips to several different alumni chapters across the country. We have visited several chapters, including New York, Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Birmingham, just to name a few. We love meeting with alumni and parents from across the country and are grateful for their enthusiasm and support of Mock Convention 2020.
Q: What has been the most difficult part of raising funds for this year’s Mock Con?
The most difficult part of fundraising has been finding different ways to get the attention of potential donors. Luckily, the Mock Con Communications Department has done a phenomenal job at promoting the organization and growing an interested audience to which we can direct fundraising outreach. From the website to our fundraising presentation, they have created professional work that makes Mock Convention easy to pitch. Because of the great team we have, our fundraising efforts have gone very well.
Q: Can you tell us a little about how funds are distributed among all of the operations and events?
For every dollar we receive, 54.7 percent goes toward the Operations Department in order to put on Convention Weekend and our other events, like the Presidential Gala and Spring Kick-Off; 37.5 percent of the funds go towards the Speakers Committee in order to bring the best speakers to Convention Weekend. About 3.6 percent of our funds go to the Communications Department in order to create and promote organization media, messaging and promotional materials. About 3.4 percent of the funds go to the Political Department to support the research efforts and the ultimate prediction. The rest of the budget is split between the Financial Department to go on fundraising trips and the General Department to keep the organization running.
Q: What is the most expensive part of putting on this event?
The Operations Department is the most expensive department. For Convention Weekend, contracts tend to be steep as we plan for the event to look and feel as close to the actual Democratic National Convention as possible. High profile speakers can charge up to $200,000 just for a weekend of speeches, so careful budgeting for 12 of these individuals has been a challenge for my team to face.
Q: How have your academic experiences at W&L helped you in this role?
A big part of my role as Financial Chair has been presenting and pitching Mock Convention to large groups of important people. From my academic courses, I have learned presentation skills that have easily translated to Mock Convention presentations.
Q: What has been the most entertaining or exciting part of the entire Mock Con experience for you (so far)?
The most exciting part of Mock Convention so far has been seeing all of our hard work come together for the Presidential Gala. I was hired for this position my freshman year, and to finally see such a large-scale event happen as a result of the team’s years of work was so exciting. I loved walking into the gala and seeing all of the items I had seen in contracts and receipts come to life.
Q: Why did a neuroscience major want to be the financial chair of Mock Convention?
I get asked that question a lot. As a neuroscience major, one of my goals is to go to medical school and get heavily involved in research. In medical research, one of the most important parts of the process is writing grants and getting funding in order to carry out your research. This includes budgeting your resources in order to get the best use of what you have. Although Mock Convention is a political organization, for me, it has been all about the finances and making sure that we are getting the most out of what we have. When I attended Mock Convention my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to be involved, but I honestly did not know a ton about politics. By applying for the Financial Chair position, I was able to hone my budgeting and fundraising skills that I can take with me to positions in the medical research field. Asking people for money is not always a comfortable job, but through this position, I feel confident in my ability to write grants and explain the importance of what I am doing and why someone should invest in my work.
Q: How does one donate to Mock Convention?
We are always open to additional support and grateful for the help. If you feel inclined, visit mockconvention.com/donate for more information on ways to contribute.