September 18, 2017

Finding the Best Sponsor FIT for your Project

Jackie Davis led SPA’s second colloquium of the year Wednesday, September 13, 2017 in the Atrium. This session was packed full of important tips and advice to remember when searching for your project’s sponsor.


Davis began the session with the acronym FIT, which must be considered when looking for a sponsor.


Jackie Davis smiles as her audience interacts
with her during her presentation.
When thinking about funds, be sure to consider the amount of restrictions and the use of the funds.

Intention refers to the intentions of the funds and the intentions of the sponsor. Do their intentions fit with the purpose of your project, your goals and your project objectives?

Timing does not just refer to the application deadline, but also when the money will be distributed. Some sponsors pay on a schedule based on deliverables, some wait until the end or they will withhold the last payment to make sure you submit your project reports.

“A lot of the funds Ball State receives are cost reimbursements,” said Davis, “We pay the money and then we invoice the sponsor and then they reimburse us.”

Timing of funds is a consideration that Sponsored Projects can help you with.

Like a Glove

In addition to making your sponsor FIT, it is important to make sure your sponsor fits your project like a glove.

Davis handed out gloves to everyone who attended the colloquium. The gloves varied in sizes, colors and types. She made many valuable points by asking the audience if their gloves fit and what they could be used for.

An audience member shows off her
glove, which is a perfect fit.
“What is my purpose? If the purpose is to keep your hand warm, then lots of these gloves will serve your purpose. If your purpose is to go play a softball game then only one of these gloves will be helpful,” said Davis. 

Think of your sponsor as a glove, and remember to ask yourself these important questions. Does my project fit within in the sponsor’s mission, does it fit within the timeline or are you forcing your hand into the glove?

Additional Advice to Consider

  • Talk to the program officer that’s why they’re there, and sometimes you need a collaborator to help find the right fit. 
  • Every sponsor, opportunity and deadline has different priorities, instructions and requirements.
  • When it comes to deadlines, don’t assume you know because you have submitted to them before, many sponsors make changes every year. 
  • Read the guidelines carefully and follow them exactly, because there’s nothing more frustrating than getting thrown out for not following directions. 
  • What the program officer says goes, because it’s all about relationship building. You must respect their decisions. 
  • Relate your organization, your project and your program to the sponsor’s mission. What is the significance and why should your sponsor care? 
  • Grant writing is telling a story, it is persuasive writing. 
  • Include a contingency plan. Your proposal is a straight line, but that isn’t real life, so have a back-up plan from the beginning.

Remember to make sure you sponsor FITs like a glove, and that one size does not fit all. Sometimes you will have to make a change to your project in order to fit. If they advise you to change, make sure it is something you can live with. You do not have to change if you don’t want to, but make sure you are a perfect piece to their puzzle.

Upcoming Events

Check out these additional events that can help you with finding a sponsor!

Focus on the Search Sessions
  • Focus on the Search: Part 1 – Oct. 12 (11:00am, SPA Conference Room) Registration Required.
  • Focus on the Search: Part 2 – Oct. 20 (2:00pm, SPA Conference Room) Registration Required. 
  • Click here to register.

SPA Colloquia: Applying for a Discovery Grant – Oct. 6 (3:00pm, Bracken Library 104)

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