Recently I have had many requests how to fund an expedition, so I found this old article from 2009, but it is still valid…
Eid al-Adha , The Festival of Sacrifice, is coming up for all our worlds Muslims, 1.2 billion in total, representing 28% of the worlds population. It marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. In Oman it also means that everybody is taking ten days off work, everything is closed, our work is brought to a total stand still and a lot of locals have rushed to all the malls in Muscat to buy presents. My friend Kamil calls it the Muslim Christmas. He and his family will fly for a short holiday to Bahrain, three days of additional shopping. It is a time you spend together with your family. I will write a blog report about it, once Eid is over. We look forward to it very much. Suddenly something big is happening in town! No matter what, we will still leave Muscat and head for Salalah to meet one of my Bedu friends from the Al-Mahra tribe, Mussalem Bin Hassan and at the same time check our upcoming route through the country.
Since I arrived to Oman I have received a fair amount of requests from people who´d like to join the Expedition, which is an honor, from some really good names with in exploration and adventure and I have received an uncounted number of emails from people, all young men, if I can help them find sponsors or how to go about. And I think throughout these 24 years of travelling, and 1000s of emails, this is the most common question I have received. So, inspired by a Facebook friend, Alistair Humphreys, I have spent a fair amount of my thoughts today, whilst sitting in long queues of traffic, dodging shoppers crossing the road, thinking about the issue. So here we go, 3 tips and thoughts on the subject!
1. Do you really need it? I know many “wannabes” and first timers want sponsors because they think it looks cool, professional and impressive having a lot of logos on yourself and your gear. Travelling like I do, with cultures as the main issue, one doesn´t want to look like a formula one guy. I can understand that climbers, north and south pole skiers…I mean where meeting people and cultures are less important…and so on want to keep a high profile and market their sponsors, but otherwise there are other ways to market your potential sponsors. I have a feeling that potential sponsors in the West understands this, that it is not good to get over exposure, but in this part of the world, it hasn´t hit home yet.
So my point is, if you have the funds, it is a better choice. Less work, less stress and you run everything the way you want. However, I want to add, I have always had a great partnership with my sponsors and many of them are very good friends today and they have never, ever, had opinions how I use their brand or expose it. However, I have heard other opinions, especially if you involve broadcasting media. (Check the site at www.siberia.nu and the link to partners to see what sponsors I had on the Siberian trip.) I know that Christian Bodegren, who is trying to pass the Sahara Desert, is funding his expedition by himself. I respect that a lot for a first timer.
And, if you haven´t done a serious Expedition before, do one, and than try for sponsors for the second one. Potential sponsors wants to see a track record of what you have done. So better choice is to work and save money!
2. You really have to figure out, what does a potential sponsor want out of it? What can you offer them, which all the others cannot? For example I have a friend who is in charge of Canons sponsorship department and he gets 300 requests for sponsorship per day. He offers sponsorship to ten causes a year, meaning less than 1% of all who asks and almost all of them are well known already. I don´t want to make it look hopeless, just telling you how hard it is. My only advice is, try a new perspective, if you are not famous.
3. Target only the ones which fit your vision and find ones that you will become a pal with. Some people do anything for money, forgetting that the future will judge you by who you cooperated with. After awhile, if you take anything, your vision gets clouded in being looked upon as purely a moneymaker. Many of them in exploration I am afraid. I personally really enjoy working with sponsors. I think it is because I love dealing with people and almost all of them are very good friends to me today, with whom I socialize. Like the legendary Olle Widell at the former Outside Scandinavia. He believed in me from the beginning and sponsored me through many expeditions. I would never deal with a sponsor if I don´t have a personal relationship with them. So find the ones who fit your vision and it will be a great partnership for both!
By the way, have a look at this! (Yeah, I know, it doesn´t have anything to do with sponsorship!)