An Inside Look at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology 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 South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has allowed us an inside look into their successful corporate sponsorship program.

Describe your sponsorship program.

Our annual Dublin Dash fundraiser, a 5k run/walk, is our Chapter's primary method of raising funds to support our Student Chapter. We have been hosting this event for 12 years now. As part of this fundraiser, we reach out to chemical engineering companies asking for sponsorship in exchange for advertising. We offer benefits like special announcements on race day, T-shirt ads, and ads on the banner at the starting line.

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

Roughly $65/member.

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

Our Dublin Dash co-officers, the students tasked with planning the Dublin Dash races, work with our Chapter's outreach chairperson to execute the corporate outreach program. The president may be involved in an advisory capacity. In addition to this, a whole team of committees, utilizing almost the entire Chapter, is formed specifically for the smooth operation of the fundraiser.

What steps do you take to retain sponsors?

We try to make sure that if a company donated in years past that we continue to keep in touch with them. Additionally, we use those connections to try and set up times for company representatives to come and talk to the club about their industry. This way the company feels attached to our chapter and we have a steady supply of industry speakers.

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

It certainly seems like they want visibility with our students, especially if a company wants to hire students from our school.

How have your student members benefited from sponsorships?

Most of our sponsorship money goes towards sending our students to the Annual and Regional AIChE Student Conferences. We try and make it so that the students must put forward as little of their own money as possible to send everyone who wants to go. Additionally, our Chapter is responsible for putting on end-of-semester department picnics, and intermittent activities such as bowling nights or bringing in speakers.

How have you changed your sponsorship program over the years?

The program has been virtually the same for as long as I have been on campus. We have a system that works, and we maintain it. The biggest thing that we must be sure to do is to reach out to more and more companies each year.

What makes your sponsorship program unique to your school?

The Dublin Dash is the longest running and highest grossing fundraiser on campus.

Why do you believe your sponsorship program is successful? And in what way(s) do you consider the program to be successful?

Every year is different, but on average we bring in enough money to keep the organization sitting in a good spot. In fact, our AIChE Student Chapter is one of the few student organizations on campus that fundraises enough to not need any financial support from the school.

What advice or insight can you provide for a Student Chapter starting a corporate sponsorship program?

Rather than running several small fundraisers throughout the year and asking for sponsorship that way, try and run a singular big-ticket fundraiser with the promise of high visibility to the students and the community. It’s important to set the event up in such a way that a company can look at it and see the benefit of sponsoring without having it explained to them.

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

Not particularly. We try and do most of our fundraising right around the time of our school’s career fair to try to sign on sponsors while they’re already thinking of us. The biggest factor seems to be how often the company hires folks from our school and how many they want to hire in the future.

To find out more about South Dakota School of Mines & Technology AIChE, please visit its Facebook page.