Home News Societies

The art of the society sponsorship deal

Ari Sheils takes a look at the relationship between societies and companies who sponsor them and examines the degree of influence sponsors have over what societies choose to do with their money.

Civil Engineering Society Sticker. (Image: William Murphy)

Every year, societies need to encourage students to join them. They entice them in with Fresher’s bags, food-filled events, and opportunities to boost their CVs. Fulfilling both a Fresher’s short-term and long-term needs.

One of the ways societies fill their Freshers’ bags is through sponsorships. Along with physical goods, there are also discounts for different shops on the back of most society cards. This year, Pressup Entertainment Group’s package has expanded. It includes companies such as Muji, Wowburger, and Tower Records – all of which you can get discounts from by using certain society cards.

From speaking to different societies, it was surprising to find out that a lot of the larger societies still hadn’t found sponsors just a few days before Freshers’ week. This was then evident in the less-exciting-than-usual Freshers’ bags these societies produced.

James Watson, P.R.O. of Film Soc spoke about how he found the process of contacting sponsors, pitching his society, and getting them the best deals possible. He said that under the Pressup Entertainment Group package, there were no explicit requirements from any of the sponsors. They all offer their facilities for events outside of UCD along with discounts for their products. Their only stipulation was that each sponsor is to be displayed on the societies membership cards which allows students to access their deals.

James spoke about how he spent a lot of the summer emailing potential new sponsors. While one might assume that sponsorships are easy to come by, society committee members can spend a great deal of time and effort trying to contact different organisations and have very little to show in the end. In his own words, “if anyone broke up with me I’d be totally fine with it because I can handle the rejection, it’s just the lack of reply is killer.”

The big win for James this summer was getting Domino’s pizza to sponsor Film Soc. They agreed to provide the society with pizza for the duration of Freshers’ Week, while also providing the society with a supply of vouchers and bottle openers. This deal came with the stipulation that Film Soc had to promote Dominoes by telling students where the pizzas were from, which they were happy to agree to. They also renewed their deal with UCD Cinema, which allows them to use the cinema twice a week and offer their members a discount on regular showings. Another new sponsor they brought on board was Mongolian Barbeque, who they had to pitch their society in person to, and it involved a lot of back-and-forth conversations for it to be put in place.  

Dance Soc has a different approach to sponsorship, as they rely on their dance classes and a Basic Grant from the Societies Council for most of their income. This gives them more flexibility with what they can do, but they are hoping to have some sponsors in the coming year. They want to work with companies who are looking for performances, as they feel they have a lot to offer on this front. They are performing at the National Employer Awards this year, and hope to get a lot of publicity in order to attract potential sponsors there.

Sponsoring societies is not just a matter of big companies throwing money at student groups in order to get a foothold with that demographic. It involves a lot of work on the society committee’s behalf both in competing with other societies for sponsorships, and trying to earn the respect of the company they are approaching. The best way to obtain sponsorship is to ask absolutely everyone, be prepared for a lot of rejection, and to keep your sponsors up to date with what your society is doing throughout the year.