As a student its one of the easiest thing to get university sponsorships. All you have to do is ask. Trust me it is easier if you present your case to the right authorities in the right manner. Most universities will be happy to have their students represent them at prestigious events. It is great publicity for the university because the international media might publish stories on the events and the university can publish about the same in their own publications. Besides there are chances of the local media outlets picking the story too. All of this gets the university a lot of press and visibility in a very positive manner and chances of having more students; both local and international. So if you can sell the event as a great opportunity for the university to get visibility, the funding will be really easy.
I studied Masters of Accounting which was a part of Business Faculty at the University. The Dean of my faculty sponsored me for one of the international conferences. It was all pure luck because one of my professors, who was also more of like a friend approached me to enquire what’s on and I mentioned the issue of lack of funds for the conference. He was meeting the dean that evening & ensured that he will recommend me and do it for me. The only advice he gave me was to draft an email where I have to sell the event and how it will do good to the faculty/university and what can I offer in return. I remember mentioning I am ready to publish an article in University publication, talk about my experience after getting back and sharing this all on social media channels. I was lucky enough to have a good history of being involved in a lot of extra curricular activities and helping the university by volunteering my time coupled with an easy access to the dean, but it just gave me an idea of the possibilities a university can offer. So yes, you can approach your faculty and departments of the university as well.
A lot of big companies, whether national or international support various causes as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts and give money to communities and individuals. Companies have a clear cut agenda of popularising themselves and get advertising by the way of sponsorships. If you do research and find companies which can sponsor you for an event, then all you want is to draft an email stating what the company gets out of funding you and why they should fund you. Of course, you have to reach out to the correct person or else you might be stuck in a never ending “pass the buck” where you keep writing to different people and end up wasting time and achieving nothing of the exercise. The best way is to approach a company which has a corporate logo or ethics related to the event you are attending. Eg. if you are attending an event on sustainability, you are better off contacting companies which work in green tech like solar panels, recycling and related fields.
I had never tried this before but a friend had secured a sponsorship from UAE embassy in his country for a conference in Dubai. I was amazed and surprised at the accomplishment. It’s always about thinking out of the box and being hopeful and things magically work out. I remember writing to some of the embassies later on myself and got my Visa to Italy for free in a day. It was magical and made me realize if you have a strong desire to do something, it just becomes possible. Oh and yes, I did not take a prior appointment and just walked in there. The embassies can help you in a lot of ways besides the Visa and the sponsorship of the event but again it’s all about how you word your communication to them and how convincing you are. You can write to your own country’s embassy in the foreign country you want to visit and the foreign country’s embassy in your own country thus having double the chances.
Special Conditions for certain countries
A few countries in the world have special considerations from the events and conferences because these countries have very few participants and the organizers want to encourage participation from these countries. They might be mostly ones where people do not have access to internet and the countries are not as well developed as the rest of the world. Most African countries, island countries or smaller countries are always in this list and it is generally acceptable to offer financial help to candidates from such countries by the event organizers themselves or connecting such individuals with sponsors. The sponsorship may be partial or even could be help with visa or more formalities but it is definitely better than nothing at all.
The event organisers have a lot of contacts and can recommend the exceptional candidates to their sponsors or provide details of companies or organizations which can be approached for sponsorship by the candidates. They might even provide some financial help themselves and thus make it easier for underprivileged people to make it to the event.
One of the biggest expense for a foreign trip is definitely the air tickets, and if that is covered, 70-80-% costs of the trip are almost covered. The airlines do not have sponsorships for individuals as such but might have some provisions for organizations and NGOs. In such a case it is better to get support from a NGO to apply on your behalf. The airlines also get a lot of visibility and social media exposure through such gestures and can accommodate people easily because at times the flights are not even full and they are not losing much by offering seats to talented individuals who can present a great case for them in a foreign country.
I hope this article helped you in finding some sources which you would have not thought of yourself. There are no limits to what else can be a source of funds and with the advent of crowdfunding and fundraising sites like Gofundme and more, the only limitation is your imagination. Go spread your wings and fly to all the international destinations with these amazing tips. I hope to hear some positive experiences and your stories of raising funds successfully.