An Inside Look at the University of Oklahoma Student Chapter's Corporate Sponsorship Program

Over one-third of AIChE Student Chapters receive funding from corporate sponsors. Many of these chapters attest that their corporate sponsorship program is their most effective source of income. The AIChE Student Chapter at the University of Oklahoma has allowed us an inside look into their successful corporate sponsorship program.

Describe your sponsorship program.

Our sponsorship program is run by our external vice president and the Gallogly College of Engineering (GcoE). The GcoE has contact with some company sponsors and allows the companies to decide which student organizations they wish to donate to. Our external vice president maintains contacts with other companies to keep a sponsorship relationship on that front as well.

Once we choose the companies that we believe will be most beneficial for us to approach, we write a funding proposal. The proposal includes the size of the requested donation and a detailed description of how the funds will be used. We also include how the corporate support will benefit both parties.

To maintain good relations with the corporate sponsors, at the end of the event/funding period, we follow up with a report of how exactly their funding was used and the impacts of the sponsorship. This allows us to maintain a long-term funding relationship.

Approximately how much money per student chapter member does your sponsorship program bring in?

Our sponsorship program brings in approximately $175 per active student member.

What student-held positions are involved in the sponsorship program, and what role do they play?

Our external vice president retains contact with the companies that sponsor us. Our treasurer handles the money and sponsorship forms associated with the company donations.

What steps do you take to retain sponsors? What is your sponsor retention rate like?

Our external VP keeps in contact with representatives at companies. Also, the college itself maintains relationships and drives additional funding.

In your experience, what do sponsors seek most from their sponsorship?

In our experience, sponsors seek student recruitment opportunities and acknowledgement.

How have your student members benefited from sponsorships?

Our student members have benefited from sponsorships in the following ways:

  • Decreased out-of-pocket financial cost for travel to regional and national conferences. Our sponsorship allows us to cover the majority of travel and lodging for our students, so they only have to pay a small amount of their conference registration fees.
  • Increased number of events within the student chapter. Sponsorship gives us the ability to provide food and some seasonal activities like pumpkin carving at monthly general meetings. These meetings allow our student members to meet one another and build community within the chemical engineering department.
  • Increased funding for Chem-E-Car® teams. A number of our students participate in Chem-E-Car, and sponsorship funding allows them to get the resources and materials they need to build a car to their specifications.

How have you changed your sponsorship program over the years?

This past year, funding reports were added to maintain good long-term relationships with the corporate sponsors. 

Do you believe your sponsorship program is successful? And if so, in what way(s)?

Yes, we believe our sponsorship program is successful. Even with the downturn of the oil and gas industry, which accounted for our main sponsorship relationships in the past few years, we have remained funded.

What advice or insight can you provide for a student chapter starting a corporate sponsorship program?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies who recruit in your area. Maintain contact with those companies and the people you reach there. They may not be able to sponsor you at the current time, but if you stay in touch, you will be at the top of their list when it comes time for them to add sponsorships.

Do location or local industries seem to play a part in which companies are interested in sponsoring your student chapter?

Absolutely, most of our funding comes from oil and gas companies and additional companies that come to recruit at our university.

For more information about University of Oklahoma's AIChE Student Chapter, please visit its website.