The first step to getting yourself a corporate sponsor is identifying companies likely to be interested in your overseas placement. But where's the best place to look?
With the above in mind your best bet is to go local. There are plenty of companies who are keen to sponsor people from the communities in which they’re based. It might help them appeal to a broader audience by painting them in a good light. It’s excellent publicity for them, and they know this.
There’s no harm in contacting large national, or multinational companies. Just remember that these companies likely receive thousands of similar requests every year and as such are extremely selective.
Are there any social enterprises near you? What about companies or organisations that were started with the express purpose of bringing attention to humanitarian issues? Think outside the box, too - churches, social clubs and institutions like rotary clubs have proven to be a great help to our students in the past.
Find out who they are. Make a list.
Another way to find appropriate companies that’s often forgotten is to utilise your existing contacts.
Ask friends and family who they know and get them to put you in touch. Get on Linkedin and scan through companies who you have either a first or second connection to - knowing someone on the inside will make all the difference when pitching your cause.
Lastly make sure you tell as many people as you can that you’re looking. Take your search live through social media channels to make sure the whole world knows about it. Use relevant hashtags as you never know who’ll be paying attention to them.
One of our nursing students, Alex, managed to get her local newspaper to cover her story: “I wrote to my local paper who agreed to cover the story, and that attracted some interest. My local amateur dramatics group took interest in me and hosted two plays over two nights to which both nights sold out. The two nights alone raised me £2000!”
More than money
Just because some companies can’t give you a cash injection, doesn’t mean that they can’t help you at all.
Contact airlines to see if they’d be able to offer you a free flight, or up your baggage allowance if you’re planning on taking supplies on your trip with you.
Travel gear companies
You’re travelling halfway around the world, so you’re going to have a sizeable kit list. If you don’t already have things like a backpack, mosquito repellent and trekking shoes, get in touch with companies offering these products and see if they’ll donate the necessary items to help your cause.
Medical supply companies
All of our partner hospitals are under resourced. If you want to help them by taking supplies across with you, we’ll let you know the needs of the department you’ll be working in. You can then contact medical supply companies and ask them to help fill any gaps the hospital has.
Clothes and toys
Many of our students spend their free afternoons lending a hand to local orphanages. In a similar way to hospitals lacking medical supplies, orphanages need toys and clothes for the kids they care for. Get in touch with as many relevant retailers as you can and see if any of them will make a donation that you can take with you.
If companies have any budget at all for sponsorships, it will be limited. And remember you’ll be duking it out with every other person or group who has been in touch with them.
You’ll have to consider your pitch very carefully indeed if you want to capture the reader’s attention.
Don’t write generic outreach letters and emails. Get as many details as you can regarding the companies you’re approaching and the people within them responsible for sponsorship budgets.
While it may take much longer, it’s worth tailoring every email or letter you write to each and every company.
Cold hard facts
Getting attention for your cause requires painting a vivid picture for the reader. There are few better ways to do this than by presenting cold, hard facts.
There are plenty of enlightening, attention-grabbing facts around healthcare in the developing world. Some of these facts can be found on our infographics page. Use them.
It’s all related
The key is research. Whether it’s research around the company or the people who work there, try and find some commonality, something that links them to your cause. You’ll need to talk about this in your proposal.When you’re pitching your cause to a potential corporate sponsor relevant to healthcare, it’ll often be easy to tie your placement to their aims. But what about when you’re going after people who are entirely unrelated?
Corporate Social Responsibility
Very basically, Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, refers to a company’s impact on the world at large. That could mean environmentally, economically, or socially.
Presenting a positive image to the world is something that every company wants to do, so playing on this and pitching your cause with this in mind will almost certainly help. Explain to them how sponsoring you could improve their public image. Be as specific as you can.
It might also be an idea to talk about the impact that Work the World has on local communities and hospitals. You’ll find all the information you need on that here.
Give and take
A sponsorship is rarely a one way street. As sad as it may sound it’s highly unlikely that a company will give you free money as a gesture of goodwill - they’ll nearly always want something in return.
If you can explain, as clearly as possible, how they’ll benefit from sponsoring you, you stand a much better chance of getting their help.
You might write an article for their blog, talk about them on your social media channels, do a presentation for their company, or use their media contacts to write a post about your experience for a big-name publication. Get as creative as you can.
Finding the right words
You need to grab your reader’s attention immediately, otherwise chances are you’ll lose them.Persuading someone to read something they haven’t solicited is extremely challenging.
People make up their minds very quickly, so the first sentence you write is going to have to be one of the most interesting sentences they’ve ever read.
Also if you’re writing an email make the subject line so good that opening the mail becomes irresistible.
The first paragraph should be about your placement, why you’re undertaking it, the benefits that both you and the local community receive and how the placement related to their company.
After telling them how it relates to them, you’ll need to explain exactly how you think sponsoring you will benefit them. They might have their own ideas about this, but at least try to anticipate what you think they’ll appreciate.
If you’re stuck here are some ideas
- Brand yourself - companies will love it if you offer to advertise their brand. Wear their t-shirts, put their logo on your blog, show off their products - the works.
- Get social - Talk about them, all the time, on your social media accounts. Link to their websites, use their hashtags, mention them using the @ functionality most social platforms use.
- Make them feel special - Tell them that you won’t partner with any other brands if they offer you the full amount required. Exclusivity is the name of the game.
- Be a marketing asset - Offer to commit your story to their business when you get back from your trip. Let them know that they can freely use your story in their marketing materials and advertisements. You could provide them with photos and writing about your trip, and extend the offer to include things they might want you to do while you’re away.
Be extremely clear
How much money are you looking for? What are you going to be using it for? Do you need supplies? If so, what do you need and how will you be using them?
These are all questions you should answer before they’re asked.
You should also meet their need for general information before they have to ask you for it. How many other students will you be working with? How under-resourced are the healthcare institutions you’ll be working in? How many people read your blog? How many people follow you on your social media channels? etc.
Who are Work the World? Your potential sponsor might be thinking about giving you money, so they’ll want to know where that money’s going to. Allying themselves with our brand might be good for business, so make sure you provide them with the details.
Feel free to contact us to request any materials you might need to help make your case more persuasive. We’ve prepared a quote that you can use to get you started -
"Work the World are the world’s leading provider of tailored healthcare electives. Recommended by international universities and NGO's, Work the World's safe and structured electives are designed to help students gain experience treating diseases and advanced pathologies that are rare in the Western world. They also provide students with the opportunity to witness the challenge of global health delivery firsthand, and where appropriate, use skills acquired in their training to support healthcare staff overseas." - Rob Giddings Operations Director, Work the World.
You’ve got a wealth of options in front of you - the trick to success is to make the most out of them. Remember that most companies are going to say no - don’t let it get to you. Keep at it until you strike gold.
If you’ve got any stories around your experience finding a corporate sponsor, let us and everyone else know in the comments below.