The Secular Student Alliance’s $50,000 Challenge

This is an incredible opportunity for atheists.

There are currently more 18-25-year-olds who are not affiliated with any religion than ever before.

The Secular Student Alliance has grown faster this year than at any time in our ten-year history. You can see where the following curve is heading:

2009.group.graph

Our campus groups have made the front page of The New York Times and been featured in major magazine articles; visited New Orleans to do community service work; spearheaded consciousness-raising bus campaigns; and brought Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, and several other speakers to their universities.

Our staff has fostered this climate for growth, created a resources for educators and a fantastic brochure (PDF) for high school teachers who may have non-religious students in their classroom. They organized a conference for over 100 secular students and a trip to the Creation Museum (with special guest PZ Myers) for 300 skeptics who left the museum armed with knowledge of its misinformation campaign, able to spread the message. They are currently developing three separate student conferences for 2010, all over the country.

I just read through our annual activity summary (PDF) and was amazed by how much our staff has done with relatively few resources and how much our affiliate groups have accomplished.

I can’t stress this enough: when I say “our staff,” I’m only referring to two full-time staff members (who are seriously underpaid) and a handful of interns and volunteers. We’re reaching the breaking point where our level of growth is surpassing our ability to support the groups adequately. We need at least one other staffer and the board would love to be able to pay all staffers closer to what they’re really worth.

As it happens, we have a chance to remedy this.

An SSA member/donor named Todd Stiefel has presented us with a challenge:

Any amount we raise — up to $50,000 — by December 21st, he will match dollar-for-dollar.

In other words, your $20 contribution will bring the SSA $40. Todd’s not kidding about that dollar-for-dollar thing, either. (It’s not like we can raise $3,000 and he’ll give us the whole $50,000 amount anyway.)

This means we have a little over two months to raise an incredible amount of money — a larger amount than we’ve ever had to raise before.

The SSA staff and board are going to be doing everything we can to make this happen — meeting donors, writing letters, etc.

We could use your help, though.

If you’ve never given before, we could use your contribution now more than ever. If you have given before, your continuing support would help us even more!

If you haven’t told your friends about the Secular Student Alliance, please tell them who we are and what we do. We’re the largest organization in the world starting, supporting, and maintaining campus atheist groups. We have the ear of the White House. We helped found the Secular Coalition for America and continue to be a proud member of that group. We are also a 501(c)(3) non-profit and donations are tax-deductible.

If you have a blog or Twitter feed or Facebook, please spread the word about this challenge.

If you have any questions about the SSA, I would love to answer them in the comments below.

In the meantime, I’ll be giving updates on how we’re doing over the next several weeks.

It would be incredible if we could meet this goal.

I’m putting a ChipIn widget below (feel free to put it on your site), but you can give to us in a variety of ways.

Can you help us?

  • http://riotingmind.blogspot.com BeamStalk

    20 dollars from me. I wish I could do more. It is a great organization and I am glad to have been able to participate in some of the activities.

  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    Is it bad that the first fundraising idea I can think of involves nudity? Let me go back to the drawing board for a while…

    Seriously though, awesome opportunity.

  • Emily

    awesome. if I weren’t worrying about how to feed myself this week, I’d donate $20…. maybe in a week or two.

    Also! My university finally got an atheist organization on campus! I’m going to make sure we affiliate with SSA soon as possible. I’ll definitely encourage donations at the mtg tomorrow. Best of luck!

  • Richard Wade

    I gave another $100. Might as well while I can. My wife has just retired, and we’ll need to be more frugal. Deep thanks to Todd. Go SSA!

  • medussa

    $30, hope you get all the way to $50K.

  • Guffey

    Money is so tight right now with donating to the Maine and Washington propositions but since you asked so nicely I found $20 to give. Good luck SSA!

  • Slaughter

    Okey-doke, $100 sent merrily on its way. Oh, wait, it’s now $200!

  • Erik

    As an aside, I recently started getting emails from SSA that I never signed up for. Hemant, did you share your email list with them? I’m not very inclined to donate after getting spammed, even if I agree with the mission.

  • selfification

    “This charge will appear on your credit card bill as SECULARSTUD”

    Why didn’t you tell me I was donating to the organization for secular studs? :)

  • Alec

    I’ll take some from my savings to donate… That is, if my mom let’s me. The new club is still in it’s infancy. One teacher said he’ll consider sponsoring it, and he’ll get back to me next week. In the meantime, I’ve been asking some students if they are interested. Only positive results so far. Once the club is started, I’ll try to raise some cash there!

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/StephanGoodwin Stephan Goodwin

    I’ll be honest, I’m saving up for Xmas presents and presents for myself. I could only add a small amount, but it’s done!

    I had to…the SSA is what started me down the road to interest in the atheism movement.

    Good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Will you ever go international?

  • http://facebook.com/adamrsweet Adam

    Cool. $10 from me. I’d do more if I could afford it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Thanks to everyone who is donating! I hope we can keep this going.

    As an aside, I recently started getting emails from SSA that I never signed up for. Hemant, did you share your email list with them? I’m not very inclined to donate after getting spammed, even if I agree with the mission.

    We do have a mailing list that automatically includes donors, but I will take you off of there. I wouldn’t share a list from this site without prior notice, for what it’s worth.

    Will you ever go international?

    In fact, we are! We focus on America, but we do have affiliates in nine other countries, including Australia, Canada, and the UK :)

  • Lobar

    Off-topic, but I noticed your high school pamphlet is in dire need of a new design. There’s nothing wrong with the content, but the brick background makes it painful to read and teachers are much more likely not to even bother.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Done. Don’t give any more to Ken Ham, please. But maybe you can buy Bill Maher a textbook on public health.

  • Becky

    $20 from me! Although, I missed your chip-in button. I would have used that link had I seen it. :(

  • benjdm

    I’ll donate $10 I don’t have…done. :)

  • Chakolate

    selfification said,

    “This charge will appear on your credit card bill as SECULARSTUD”

    Why didn’t you tell me I was donating to the organization for secular studs? :)

    Shucks. I went through PayPal. If I’d known I cudda bin a stud…

    Oh, wait, can females be studs?

    Anyway, I’m in for $20.

  • jemand

    well… if you keep up the rate of today looks like you’ll be making over 90,000 in two months! lol, keep it up everyone!

  • Becky

    Wowow! $15,917 according to the SSA donation page! I also just wanted to say, Thank you Todd!

  • puseaus

    The chipin applet didn’t work in my google browser, but firefox somehow manages it. So now I can double my own modest contribution.

  • CatBallou

    My employer matches charitable donations–I had no idea SSA was eligible. Poor Todd is going to have to match the match!