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  General Information
  Affiliation - Who Needs It?
  Why Many Grants Call for Institutional Affiliation
  The Affiliation Continuum
    Work on Your Own
    Form Your Own Organzation
    Umbrella Groups
     What to Look For in a Sponsor
     Limited Role of Sponsors
   Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliation for Grantseeker and Sponsor
     How to Find a Sponsor
     Structuring Your Relationship with a Sponsor
    Become an Employee
  Conclusion: Individualism and the Grantseeker
  No One Works Alone
Guide to Fiscal Sponsorship and Affiliation

Sponsorship: Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliation for Grantseeker and Sponsor

Whether you are seeking out a new sponsor or trying to convince some group with which you presently are affiliated to serve in this capacity, you should stress the advantages of this arrangement when you approach potential sponsors. Since you may have to sell your grant idea to a funder later on in much the same way that you sell yourself to a sponsor, consider this as a sort of preapplication exercise.

The advantages to the organization sponsoring you will vary depending upon the nature of your grant idea and the type of sponsor. The best way to begin the process of selling your idea is to sit down and make a list of what advantages you can foresee for potential sponsors. Here are some suggestions of possible benefits to sponsors to help get you started:

  • By sponsoring your grant project, the organization in question may attract new funders to its own programs, thereby making it possible to bring to the attention of potential funders other services in addition to your grant project that the sponsoring organization may provide.

  • The grant money you bring in may help to spread the sponsor's own overhead charges and defray some indirect costs.

  • If your project is successful, the sponsoring organization shares the honors or benefits from your ideas.

  • Serving as a sponsor for your grant project may enable the organization to expand its own services or programs with a minimal financial outlay from its own annual budget. (The desk, phone, laboratory, and so on are already there.)

  • In some instances a sponsor may pre-empt the competition that you might present to them were you to go elsewhere with your ideas.

Some of the advantages to be gained by you, the individual grantseeker, when affiliating with a sponsor have already been touched upon: increased availability of otherwise restricted grant funds, enhanced credibility and prestige as an applicant, and access to a wide range of institutional facilities, equipment, and support services. Other possible plusses are better working conditions and experienced professional assistance in such areas as publicity and fiscal management. Whereas some projects require your spending considerable time administering the funds, affiliation with a large institutional sponsor can turn some of the managerial duties over to the sponsor. An additional incentive is the medical insurance and other benefits that some associations provide at relatively low group rates to those they sponsor.

There are, of course, disadvantages to a sponsoring arrangement, many of which are endemic to the concept of "collective work" in a highly technological society. Many individual grantseekers fear that sharing their labors will inhibit the creativity and originality of their proposed project, and this fear is somewhat justifiable. For along with affiliation comes the possible loss of autonomy and the resulting sense of obligation. Such indebtedness may be either explicit or implicit in a sponsoring arrangement.

According to an old saying, "there is no such thing as a free lunch." This is particularly true of sponsoring arrangements. If a group becomes your sponsor, it's a pretty safe bet that the leaders of that organization will expect something in return, be it servility on your part, reflected prestige, enhanced public image, or some kind of a finished product (e.g., a report, a new Web site, a booklet, or a training module).

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