Grants vs. Sponsorships for Student Groups: What’s the Difference?


Aug 30, 2021

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Attending college helps you to expand your education. Besides getting a degree, joining clubs can make your experience even more memorable! They can help you meet a diverse group of people and gain soft skills, such as leadership.

To keep these organizations running, you will need some type of funding. Grants and sponsorships are the two types of sponsorships for student groups. Here are the differences between grants vs. sponsorships.

Grants vs. Sponsorships

While both provide sponsorships for a student group, they differ in a few ways. Here are some of the key differences between grants vs. sponsorships.

The Educational Sponsor

For grants, the money comes from either the government or a foundation. Here are a few government agencies that provide grants for student organizations:

  • U.S Agency for International Development
  • AmeriCorps
  • U.S Department of Agriculture
  • U.S Department of Commerce
  • U.S Department of Education

For-profit corporations usually offer sponsorships as well. Here are some businesses that provide funding to students:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Marriott
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Whole Foods
  • State Farm

The Length of the Funding

Grants are given for a certain amount of time, usually a year or more. For example, you are only eligible for the Pell Grant for about six years. Sponsorships can be ongoing if you have a positive relationship with the company.

To keep up a positive relationship, you want to know your goals ahead of time and have open communication. Also, consider what you can offer the organization and keep up with the promises you make.

How the Money Is Used

Grant money is given for a specific purpose. It supports one-time expenses, such as purchasing new equipment. It can also help with short-term projects, such as research.

It can give your club cash to get started while looking for other funding sources. Grants can also support professional growth opportunities. You can use the money for updated technology or new staff members.

Sponsorship funds typically support your club’s events or performances. This can help you organize activities throughout the semester to gain more members. Sponsorships also support sports programs. Funding your club’s events makes the company more visible to a wider audience.

How the Sponsor Benefits

Government agencies providing grants don’t receive financial gains. However, they provide support to students helping the community or making an impact in their field.

Businesses offering sponsorship will benefit through marketing exposure. In exchange for their support, you might place their logo on your club’s merchandise or print their name on an event program. This can help them generate new leads and increase sales. You may also offer them free tickets to your events, which can be a perfect opportunity for them to get social media content.

The Benefits Your Organization Receives

When applying for a grant vs. sponsorship, each has its advantages. Grants are free money. You don’t have to pay them back or provide a service in exchange. You’ll just need to report to your sponsor how you allocated the funds.

Grants also help with larger purchases for your club, such as technology. The money also lets you take a risk within your club and try out a new initiative. Since the grant application is competitive, receiving a grant can make your club appear more credible.

Sponsorships can also spread awareness about your club. Some companies may post information about your organization’s activities on their social media accounts. This exposure can help you attract more sponsors or volunteers. With increased support, you can further expand your club.

The Application Process

When looking for funding for your club, you’ll have to go through an application process. Grants require you to submit a detailed proposal. The application asks you to describe how you will use the money and benefit the local community. You want to write an effective proposal, since grants are highly competitive to receive.

Here are some tips for writing an effective proposal:

  • Follow all directions.
  • Pay close attention to your partnership letter.
  • Outline your process.
  • Use numbers to show how your project will be successful.
  • Tell a clear financial story.

When applying for a grant, you can use an online site, such as, to fill out the application. Once you receive the funding, you have to submit a report of your spending.

To apply for sponsorships, you can go onto your school’s website and find a form. Many institutions provide sponsorships for student groups. You’ll need to fill out all the required documents. They will ask you for details on your club’s events and budget estimates.

Before filling out the form, you want to know the eligibility requirements and the proposal deadline. Once you submit your application, you have to wait for committee approval.

If you have a few corporations in mind already, then you can contact them directly. You’ll want to have a plan before you approach them. Figure out exactly how they can help you. Being prepared ahead of time can make it easier to answer any questions they may ask.

Look for larger corporations that have a division that handles charitable donations. Here are some additional ways to get a sponsor and enhance your club’s goals:

  • Set SMART goals: The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
  • Know what to look for: You want to find companies active in your community, that have the proper funds, and align with your morals.
  • Make your pitch: Keep in mind your goals and what you can offer the company. Consider using stats, such as your club’s attendance rate, to make your argument more persuasive.
  • Be realistic: Keep in mind larger corporations may have more funding, but also may already fund multiple organizations.
  • Uphold your end of the deal: Make sure you are following through on the promises you made when signing the contract.
  • Keep an open line of communication: Make sure you are in contact with your sponsor periodically, especially if there are any concerns.

Once you have gained a sponsor, be sure to send them a thank-you card to show your appreciation.

Types of Sponsorships for Student Groups

Sponsorships for student groups help support your clubs and initiatives. Clubs are a fun way to get involved in student life on campus. The difference between grants vs. scholarships is mainly the objective of the funds. If your organization needs some extra cash, keep this information in mind.

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