Participants of our previous conferences had their expenses paid partially or in full by a single benefactor or a combination of several sponsors. The majority of this funding has come from within their home universities, local businesses and private or corporate foundations. Some students have had their student fee paid for, while others have received grants to cover the cost of their airfare. The more ambitious students have managed to obtain funding for both.
Step 1: Prepare a budget
When planning your sponsorship effort think about the following expenses:
- Conference fee
- Travel costs
- Visa and Insurance costs
- Other miscellaneous and overhead expenses
Before you start fundraising, prepare a detailed budget and outline the costs in each of these categories. Think of what expenses you may encounter and identify those expenses that you are unable to cover personally. It is a good idea to devide the total cost into several groups (equal amounts or by category), as you have higher chances of finding several smaller contributors ready to sponsor only a part of your expenses. Make sure to let your potential sponsors know what your total budget is, what percentage of it you contribute yourself, and which share of it you expect them to contribute. Despite of the amount they contribute, each sponsor will be recognised equally. Refer to our sponsorship package for the list of benefits we offer to Student Sponsors.
It is very important to start your fundraising with a positive and ambitious mindset. You have to realise that there are companies and organisations who are interested in supporting youth initiatives, and it is only a matter of approaching the right sponsors. By sponsoring you, these entities are not making you a favour, but rather pursuing certain goals to fulfill their CSR policies and missions. It is therefore very imporant to emphasize that you are supporting their activities as much as they support you.
Step 2: Gain knowledge of the project
Before starting any fundraising activities, it is important that you know what the International Youth Leadership Conference is. Browse through our web-site to find more information that will support your applications and requests.
You need to understand what you will gain by attending the IYLC: will the conference support your academic or professional career, will it help you become more experienced in certain fields, will it help you with your research or other projects etc. You need to justify why attending the IYLC is important to you, and more importantly what you think you will gain as a result of it and how this new experience will help you give back to your community.
Brainstorm to identify how the IYLC will benefit various aspects of your life, and have this list ready when approaching different sponsors – there should be something on this list to appeal to them.
Step 3: Identify potential sponsors
Starting your fundraising is easy if you have a clear view of who you want to to approach.
It is best to start by identifying the industries that are supportive of the goals you are pursuing and are interested in youth projects and initiatives. These may include: headhunting, tobacco and alcohol manufacturing, sporting, automative etc.
You may then narrow down your list of potential sponsors by doing an online research and identifying which of these support particular fields of concern to the IYLC: leadership, sustainable development, human rights, intercultural communication, human rights, peace and justice etc.
The better you know your potential sponsors, the more you can address their particular "needs". Make sure you know the terms they are using – by using these their terms you can better relate to them.
Chambers of Commerce, Visitors' Bureaus, various Ministries usually have public listings (books of lists), which profile businesses and community organizations with their contact information. Other places that might provide these listings may include local media outlets, prominent businesses, investment firms etc.
Step 4: Approach potential sponsors
The people you will be dealing with are extremely busy! It is therefore very important that you have everything ready when you approach them. By the time you make a contact you should know precisely:
- What the organisation does
- What values and goals it pursues
- What CSR policies it has in place, if any
- What funding/scholarship resources it offers, if any
- Who the right person to contact is (these are usually CEOs, marketing, advertising, public relations or other departments)
Based on this information, you should customise your request/application to address the "needs" of a certain potential sponsor.
- Phone call:
There is nothing better than a personal contact. You should therefore start with a phone call to the organization.
Be prepared to answer the three basics that people will want to know immediately:
- Who are you What you are doing Why are you approaching them
This is a fact-finding endeavor for you as much as making a personal impression. After introducing yourself, you need to find out who your contact will be in the organization. If you can’t speak directly to them talk to their personal assistant (Personal Assistants are extremely valuable!). Be honest in your dedication, polite and pleasant when interacting, provide information when they request it – be professional.
- Sending the information:
Most organization will ask you to provide something in writing. Have a package prepared, ready to go out, that includes some or all of the following:
Copy of your acceptance letter
Letter from CCI to your sponsor
IYLC sponsorship package
IYLC schedule of events
Reference(s) from university staff
Reference(s) from an employer
A good cover letter is one of the most valuable ways to communicate your need. It should clearly outline everything that has been presented in the introductory phone call. It as well gives you a chance to show something a little more personal, like: why is it so important for you to participate in the conference, what do you hope to achieve or how will you use what you have learned to improve your community. However, it must remain professional. Keep it simple and concise.
If you need a letter addressed to a potential sponsor on your behalf signed by Civic Concepts International, please email us at [email protected].
- Follow up:
Never let too much time lapse between the receipt of your package – whether by post or fax – and your follow up phone call. If they do not hear from you in a reasonable amount of time they will simply remove your information from their desks.
Again here is another chance to make a personal contact. This is where you want to begin the push for a meeting, if not with the original contact (“he’s too busy”) that with whoever you think is the best choice instead? Would the original contact be willing to speak over the phone if he/she can’t set up a full meeting?
- The Meeting:
You must always be prepared when you walk into that meeting – this is your chance. Have all the materials you need or that they have requested, dress professionally, be on time, but most importantly it is your presentation that will sell the sponsorship. Have a clear plan of presenting your case to the decision maker:
Introduce yourself again – briefly, if they are already familiar with your case
Description of the conference
What you see as the benefit of attending for yourself
What you propose to give them back in return for sponsorship
What are their benefits from sponsoring you
Facts and figures on costs
Have deadlines handy
Step 5: Fulfill your obligations
Once you've received a sponsorship it is very important that you fulfill all the obligations you've undertaken. You need to make sure you inform us about the sponsorship and send us your sponsors logos on time, so that their support is acknowledged. You also need to send a thank you note to your sponsor, describing how much you value their contribution and what impact it had on your professional and academic career. Send them links to web-site pages where their logos are placed, and any other materials that mention their support to you.
Categories of Sponsors
Your University is the best place to start your fundraising. While businesses are going to be more concerned with the bottom line and how their sponsorship will provide an added benefit for them, the university's job is to ensure the success of their students.
Every university in every country is different, and as a first step you should approach your financial aid office for the best advice. Most schools have funds set aside for academic endeavors such as the IYLC and your FA office can direct you to the departments that receive such funds and who is responsible for allocating them.
Once you know who to talk to, simply explain the nature of the International Youth Leadership Conference and the type of funding that you seek, and they will hopefully be able to construct for you the best plan of action. Different university departments may have bursaries, scholarships or special grants that you may qualify for by attending the IYLC as a representative of your university.
As an added incentive to the University to support your trip, tell them about the IYLC sponsorship package and the benefits they will receive. Offer to act as an “ambassador” for the school, and by simply talking to other students can promote the university.
The best thing you can do is be honest – that you really want to participate in this educational experience, and you would like their assistance. You could offer to give a speech upon your return about what you experienced and what the conference was like. This international forum is extremely unique and you will have much to say, considering you will be surrounded by other students from around the world.
In addition, if your university themselves cannot fund your trip, at least partially, they will have a network of contacts who might. Ask them for all advice they can give you regarding outside sources for funding. Additionally they may provide you with reference letters and other documents that may support your fundraising activities elsewhere.
NGOs and NPOs
A number of local and international non-governmental and non-profit organisations support youth initiatives, and might have resources to fund your attendance in the IYLC. By doing a simple online search, you can find numerous foundations and grant-makers, which can potentially support you financially or offer help in your fundraising efforts.
Dealing with such organisations however may be a time-consuming process. You might need to submit an official application form, and then wait for months before you find out their decision. If you decide to pursue this opportunity, you need to start early.
Several of our past participants have received funding from private businesses (corporations as well as small businesses in their country or local community). The student has many things to offer the business in return for their financial contribution. At the IYLC conference, each business gets their name and/or company logo on the official conference textbook and official conference itinerary, as well as on the web site (please see our sponsorship package for more details).
When dealing with private businesses, it is very important to use figures to illustrate your points. Businesses are usually concerned with ROI (return on investment), which is very hard to calculate, and therefore providing them with the figures ahead of time will support your application greatly.
To show you are proactive, offer to write a press release or an article and host a press conference for the local media that will announce the company's community service and dedication to the future of young leaders. If agreed upon your sponsors will want you to work closely with their Public Relations or Marketing departments to approve the message being sent, but they also are invaluable in giving you advice on the process and contacts in the field. Some of the key media outlets you should involve:
- Local television affiliates
- Newspapers for your area
- Your campus newspaper
- Radio stations
Reducing Travel Costs
One of the biggest hindrances to attendance – especially from certain areas of the world – are travel costs.
However, creativity and research can reduce the burden tremendously.
There is a number of web-sites that allow you to find affordable fares from anywhere in the world to Prague. We suggest www.skyscanner.net as a starting point for your research. Make sure to consider different travel dates, as well as different destination airports (train system in Europe is very efficient and in a matter of hours you can arrive to Prague from one of the neighbouring countries).
Another great website for locating discounted airline tickets is www.studentuniverse.com, which specializes in student travel. There are some limitations on who can use their discounted rates, so please check the website to see if it applies to you.
You might also want to look into arriving at one of the other major cities (ex: London, Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, etc) and check for either:
- Low cost providers based there that have flights to Prague.
Some examples: From London, UK you can take Easyjet
- From Cologne, Germany there is Germanwings From Milan or Venice, Italy check Volareweb
Keep in mind that these are just a few. If you do further research you can find other major
European cities with reasonable airlines servicing them.
Here are the websites you can check for destinations and prices –
www.easyjet.com, www.germanwings.com, www.volareweb.com, www.smartwings.net
- Train and bus schedules. Combining a train or bus ticket with your flight can help reduce
costs. Some helpful links are:
www.eurolines.cz – Eurolines, buses
www.bei.cz – Bohemia Express, buses
http://vlak.cz/ConnForm.asp?tt=c&cl=E5 – Schedules for all train and buses coming
into the Czech Republic.
It is important to remember that there is definitely money out there to help finance your attendance of educational forums like the International Youth Leadership Conference. The money is being put to good use–financiers are investing in the future leaders of the modern world—and this gives you some excellent starting points. Remember – you are only as successful as how ambitious and creative you are. We wish you the best of luck on your quest for financial aid and look forward to seeing you in Prague!