Getting a corporate sponsorship can really boost your society's bank account or get cheaper things for you and your members, but sponsorships come in many forms. They might want to give you offers/deals to use their services, buy equipment for the society, provide guest speakers or give you some money to go towards an event.

It may seem scary and like something you never thought you’d be doing, but that’s why we've created this guide! Use it to make getting a sponsorship a that bit easier and make sure you are doing it right. Use these steps and tick them off as you go keep yourself on track! 

Make sure to contact any potential corporate partners with your official Heriot-Watt email. We've put together a template document that you can fill out when undertaking a sponsorship to make sure you're both protected.


Step 1 – Understand what you want from a sponsor and what a sponsor gets from you

Each society is different, but the goal here is to understand what a sponsor can give you and what you give them.

Let's take the Foodie Society for example. They want to share/promote food places in Edinburgh and offer discounted prices to their members. They have 290 followers on Instagram (mainly students) and X society members.

An ideal sponsor for them might be a coffee shop that they want to have society meetings in (when possible). The coffee shop sponsor might ask to be promoted on the society's social media, and in return you want a x% discount for your society members. 


Step 2 – Build a brand for yourself

Okay this one takes time but is totally worth it.

Get yourself on Instagram, Twitter and a Facebook page and get yourself a logo that stands out from the rest!

Let’s say The Hive are offering their society sponsorship again when they reopen, and you apply but a similar society from Edinburgh Uni with similar memberships also applies. The Hive will look to see which society they want to be most associated with, and a big factor that will come into this is how you represent yourself.

So, take the extra step, have someone proofread your emails to them and make sure you are holding yourself to a professional standard. Make your society look good!

Remember, money doesn't grow on trees and they won't give it to a society if they don't see how their business will benefit from the partnership.


Step 3 – Build a good working relationship with the company!

Don’t go in all-guns blazing, asking for sponsorship, if they have no idea who you are.

Ideally use their facilities a few times, let them know who you are and how you are getting so many people to attend.

Pool Society, for example, for the past few years have been getting a burger & pint deal for £4.75 at the Union alongside free pool all night. This was established from them using the facilities every Wednesday and always buying food and drink and constantly helping fill the bar. This encourages the society to keep coming every week rather than going to pool halls in Edinburgh where they could have more tables. 

Watt Esports and Video Games Society - Who have been sponsered by HIVE nightclub multiple times.

Step 4 – Send a proposal

It’s time to put your cards on the table. You really need to sell yourself but not too much, remember professional standard.

The key messages you want to get across are:

  • The aims of your society that align with the aims of the company - “We want to promote great places to eat in Edinburgh and we think you are one of the best”
  • How many Active members/followers you have. Whilst this doesn't have to be a super precise number, if you tell them 100 people usually come and then only 5 turn up to use their space they will not be too pleased!
  • What benefits they get from sponsoring you. Will you add their logo to your team shirts? Have weekly meetings?
  • What benefits you hope it will bring your members, e.g. a safe space to meet up every week?

It can be helpful for another member of the society leadership team to take a look over what you are submitting, just in case you've missed anything or there's something extra that you would benefit from having. Scott and Christy are more than happy to have a look over this for you.

Step 5 – Negotiation

Now the ball is in their court. 

Hopefully they want to sponsor you, but don’t be disheartened if they don’t. There's a lot of different companies out there, so keep trying. You might want to ask for feedback on your application so that you know what to do next time! As you've already completed the process once it should be easier to approach other companies.

Many places are also hurting due to the current financial situation so might not be able to provide much sponsorship support. We recommend asking for discounts this year if you can. This may also work in your favour as companies want to get big groups through the door (when we're allowed) so that they can keep business going, but if companies are still offering sponsorships then of course that's great too. 

Remember you can always try again with that company at some point in the future or with another company that you think will fit.


If you want any backup from the union or you've got any questions this guide hasn't answered feel free to reach out to the Scott or Christy.