Corporate Support

Corporate Sponsorship and Relationships

Harvard is committed to ensuring that students have an undergraduate experience that is not overly commercialized. For more information read the Provost’s summary of the Principles Governing Commercial Activities.  Therefore, it is important that student organizations structure relationships with corporations, businesses, and other supporters effectively and appropriately in order to align with University and College policies. The DSO is available to review an organization’s fundraising plans and materials.

Sponsorship of Events and Activities

The College requires that each student organization maintain local autonomy, having no institutional connections with outside organizations. Co-sponsorship of an event with non-Harvard organizations or individuals is not permitted on the Harvard campus.

Student organizations may not co-sponsor on-campus events with external or unrecognized organizations (e.g., non-profit organizations; businesses; independent contractors) and may not collaborate with unrecognized student organizations (final clubs, fraternities, sororities) on campus.

Non-Harvard organizations and individuals may not hold events on campus by using a student organization as a vehicle to stage an event on campus property or to reserve a campus room for a function (i.e. running a workshop about the organization or product, or hosting an event aimed exclusively at recruitment). Any employment recruitment events should be coordinated in conjunction with the Office of Career Services.

Room reservation privileges granted to recognized organizations are non-transferable.
In special circumstances, unrecognized student organizations whose membership consists entirely of Harvard College undergraduates may, at the discretion of a particular Harvard office or department, be permitted to co-sponsor educational programs organized by that office or department.

Corporate Support

Relationship between student organizations and outside companies and organizations should be mutually beneficial arrangements.  Non-Harvard businesses, organizations, and corporations support student organizations with the donation of goods, services, and funds out of a combination of altruism and self-interest. Their support can help build community relations, improve their image to shareholders and customers, reduce tax liability, and provide a host of other benefits.  The relationship with Harvard’s brand also has intrinsic benefits. There are major differences between soliciting from corporations and from local businesses, although both are part of the business sector. Local businesses are not likely to have large amounts of money to give away, but they are especially likely to participate in student initiatives, particularly through in-kind donations of goods or services.

Bear in mind that local businesses receive many requests from Harvard student organizations on a weekly basis. Coordination with the Dean of Students Office is required when organizations with Gift Accounts or Endowment Funds apply to foundations for support.

Alcohol companies, services, or distributors may not provide support (i.e. monetary, gifts in kind, products, etc.) for student organization events.

Soliciting Corporate Support

The principle of accuracy is critical when working to secure corporate support.  Most importantly, student organizations must clearly identify their affiliation with Harvard as:

  • “a student-run organization at Harvard College.”

Best practices for soliciting corporate support:

  • Be familiar with the policies on acknowledging support and do not over promise
  • Develop polished fundraising materials (letters, booklets, et. al) and have them reviewed by the DSO prior to their distribution
  • Put all agreements in writing to clearly articulate what will be provided and received in return
  • Identify one individual to spearhead fundraising efforts alongside a broader committee.  
  • Make sure all members of the committee are clear on fundraising policies
  • All agreements should be reviewed and finalized by one individual, generally the head of the committee

Acknowledging Corporate Support

Student organizations can acknowledge support in a variety of ways.  All forms of acknowledgment must clearly identify the role of the corporation/business/donor as “supporter,” not as “sponsor” or “co-sponsor” of the event itself.  

Common forms of acknowledgement in line with College and University policy include:

  • Oral acknowledgement by conference organizers
    • “Thanks to our supporters…”
    • “Without the generous support of XYZ, this lunch would not have been possible…”
  • Recognition of support, in a designated supporters section, in printed materials including:
    • Conference booklets
    • Posters
    • Programs
    • Mailings
  • Mentions in press releases and media coverage
    • Website presence, in a designated supporters section/tab.
    • Display of a logo
    • Link to website
  • Presence on conference SWAG (shirts, bags, et. al.)
    • If a logo is used, it cannot be printed in conjunction with a Harvard Name or Trademark
      • Generally, organizations use the Name and Trademark on the front, then have a designated supporters section on the back
  • Unobtrusive visuals at an event
    • A scrolling powerpoint of slides thanking various supporters
    • Small signs indicating the source of in-kind donations
      • For example, a food table with a small placard that states “Lunch generously provided by XYZ.”
  • Line item mentions in the agenda or program
    • For example, if lunch is underwritten by a supporter, the agenda might say “Lunch made possible with the support of XYZ.”
  • Inserts in attendee packets or folders
    • Company information
    • Fliers
    • Coupons
    • Menus
  • On-campus recruitment events
  • Written letters of acknowledgement and thanks 

The following means of acknowledgement are not permitted by College and University policy:

  • Headlining sponsorship
    • ABC, brought to you by XYZ
    • XYZ proudly presents: ABC
  • Placement of supporter logos or names next to or near the Harvard Name or Trademarks
  • Banners (hanging) or banner stands in or on Harvard buildings
  • Promotional booths, setups, or other activities
  • Presence of marketing or promotion staff
  • Endorsement of products, goods, services, or organizations

Corporate support of events that take place in the Houses is not permitted.