Music donors could come to recitals; this is potentially doable for an older graduate student. A student could book the nicer recital halls on campus and have a catered reception afterward to mingle with these donors. A student can have the "If you like what you heard, do you mind funding my dissertation?" discussion with these people. Here's how this could be accomplished at my school.
As a doctoral student, I would have second dibs on recital space (Artist Diplomas have first choice). I could pick either Werner Recital Hall or the Cohen Family Studio Theater; other venues on campus would not suffice. I would also have to book a suitable venue for the reception. Werner has a reception room, but unfortunately a student might have to leave early and not talk to donors due to another incoming recital. Of course, in the recital packet, students are advised to book the CCM Cafe for receptions, a place that is not exactly classy.
Would the Baur Room work as a reception venue? Is this completely out of the question? I suppose student composers are only supposed to produce a recital and graduate.