We’re currently seeing a number of cutbacks in education having a crippling knock-on effect. Not so long ago, universities, students’ unions or even you guys might have funded the kinds of projects we’ve had on Sponsorcraft. Last year, we heard the stories of several students who’d enjoyed funding only the year before (e.g. UWE Comets) and were suddenly left unable to afford some of the highlights of their club or society’s calendar (e.g. national competitions, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival). As well as starving universities and students’ unions of funding, as you know, cutbacks in education have meant a rise in tuition fees and that means you lot with less cash floating around to pursue your ambitions.
Moreover, with the economy as it is, corporate sponsors with graduate recruitment programmes (who might have otherwise filled the gap) are more likely to pull things that aren’t guaranteed a return. Recruitment is no longer a priority meaning sponsorship deals are some of the first things to get cut. We’ve had a number of students come to us speaking of having their funding withdrawn by the likes KPMG who they’d previously enjoyed long-term deals with.
At a time when Higher Education budgets are being trimmed and funding is increasingly scarce, Sponsorcraft empowers individual clubs and societies to advertise their projects to a community of online sponsors – friends, followers, businesses and, in particular, alumni! We help to connect your ideas directly with people who can make a difference. This means you don’t have to go through the conventional university/college channels (e.g. officers, reps, magazines). This can take time to process and we know resources are already stretched.
Moreover, when you post onto our website, you are not competing to secure the same lump bursary as 50 other groups. Allow us to illustrate the difference with the following.
Here is a classic example of some of the problems that students face in securing funding: Edit – this link has now been removed. Hopefully nothing to do with our article…
Firstly, student clubs and societies are having to compete with “rivals” from different universities in order to secure what are often very small amounts of money. In this case, for example, a bespoke proposal needs to be put together and submitted for a single source of funding! This is, we feel, crazy. Our website makes these proposals public and opens each one out to a diverse community of potential sponsors. This means you are not left squabbling over the last fizzy cola bottle at the bottom of an empty bag.
Sponsorcraft seeks to connect societies with the alumni of their own university who are more likely to
Often existing grants are given on a strings-attached basis (e.g. “It is a condition of the funding that, within one year after receiving the grant, a case study of c. 2,000 words be produced, describing the project and giving an account of what has been learnt from it and what the benefits to students have been. The case study will be posted on the Subject Centre website”). There is usually a “catch” – as the website itself describes it.
What’s more, we’re told that “a full-time permanent member of staff must be named as contact for the Subject Centre and will be responsible for approving expenditure” – this is a real burden for student societies who want to run themselves!
We do things very differently at Sponsorcraft. It costs you nothing to access the website or to post your projects up – whatever they may be. In fact, it could be the case that the more wacky and wonderful they are, the more likely they are to attract attention and sponsorship. We tend to offer advice rather than telling you you can or can’t do stuff. Your proposals are then subject to the free and open perusal of potential sponsors. A little bit like Dragons Den… except without the whole ‘tearing your ideas to shreds’ part. Alumni browsing the website won’t usually contribute thousands of pounds individually to a project, but collectively, if enough of them feel happy chipping in, they’ll pull you towards to the total you want to raise.
We hope to help people with initiative and ideas get to get where they want to be. Not where we (or any other funding institution) want them to be. The system of “rewards” on Sponsorcraft is a nice way of personally thanking sponsors for their donations but is in no way prescriptive. We encourage imagination in the designing of suitable “rewards” for sponsors. These should help to foster a relationship with sponsors who will then, in all likelihood, donate again. As Sponsorcraft and the culture that accompanies it gains momentum, we envisage it becoming easier and easier to raise money for your projects. This can only be enormously exciting and empowering for students, clubs and societies up and down the UK.
Thoughts? Let us know below!