Polling Society crowdfunds for operating costs

by Malcolm Meyer / Beacon Correspondent • November 20, 2014

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From Beacon Archives
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From Beacon Archives

The Emerson College Polling Society is hosting an online fundraiser to pay for this school year’s costs. Using the higher education crowdfunding site Useed, the organization hopes to raise $5,000 by the end of November. As of press time, the group had raised $4,189.  

A single poll can cost between $1,800 and $2,700, according to the fundraising site. Sophomore Hannah Ritter, a social media coordinator for ECPS, said the money raised will pay for phone number lists, an automated call service, and a media relations service to distribute the results, among other costs. She said she hopes to see a few different polls conducted in the spring.

“We just finished the midterm elections, and that was really exciting,” said Ritter, a political communication major. “I think next semester we’re going to focus more on issue polls since the elections are over.”

One issue the group wants to research is net neutrality, Ritter said. The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that would let companies pay more to have their content delivered faster, which net neutrality advocates oppose.

While the organization is recognized by the Student Government Association, it does not receive funds like some other recognized groups. Ritter said the group wants to show that it is not directly tied to the college. 

The group did receive a grant earlier this year from Emerson’s Presidential Fund for Curricular Innovation, according to the college’s website. Adviser Spencer Kimball, a communication studies scholar-in-residence, said the group has used the grant and money from other fundraisers for other Polling Society events. For its latest event, on Nov. 12, the group hosted Mark Blumenthal, the Huffington Post’s senior polling editor. 

But its biggest costs comes from the polling.

“The fundraiser and the innovation grant will cover the cost of polling from 2014,” Kimball said. “And then we would like to start thinking about 2016 and those primaries, so we’re going to start budgeting for that, and part of the money we raise here will be used for those other races.”

Ritter said she began developing the fundraising page during the spring semester with three Polling Society colleagues and Useed co-founder Matthew Racz. She said they launched the poll midway through the semester in order to match up the timing with the midterm elections. 

Adriana Guida, a 2012 alumna, donated to the fundraiser, in part because she said she became interested in the polling process and its benefits to political campaigns just as she was finishing at Emerson.

 “It would have been something that I would have liked having access to outside of the classroom and I didn’t,” Guida said. “I thought it would be neat for any current students to have that opportunity.”