HOW TO GET sponsorship for expeditions




This is a detailed article explaining how you go about getting sponsorship for expeditions. I tell you how sponsorship for expeditions is a long process and whether it is right for you.

Recently on the Podcast, I was speaking to Geordie Stewart about sponsorship. A question I get asked a lot. In 2012 I decided to cycle across America solo and unsupported. Thinking this was a significant achievement, I went about asking companies for support and sponsorship. All but a few came back with a big fat no!! One mistake I had made that I look back on, is not to see it from their view. Why would they give me money and what are they going to get in return.

Here are a couple of lessons I took while chasing money and adventures down the years.

I’m not an expert by any means, and I am just giving the lessons I have learnt, so in the comments, I welcome your observations on sponsorship for expeditions.

Before going on an adventure ask yourself this

Do you need sponsorship?

Looking back, I would have had more money for the expedition if I had spent the final six weeks working and saving rather than emailing random companies for a t-shirt or energy tablets.

Rather than all the strain, disappointment and loss of self-respect that goes into pursuing sponsors, you might be a little better off just staying in your job for a little bit longer and saving up for the expedition? This depends on the size of the expedition.


People are doing excellent stuff every day, why are you different, and as was said on episode 4 of the Podcast, no one cares really!! Sponsors don’t watch if you are getting over a mental health issue or walking the length of Great Britain naked for a charity. What is in it for them? What makes you unique and why should they care. What is your unique selling point?

Is it a world record, will you be the youngest or fastest person. Big companies will ignore you so unless you have a contact, going down this avenue will be challenging and demoralising. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.

As painful as it is for me to say. Most of the sponsors I have got have been through contact. Network…. The people you know the more connections you have.

Build yourself

It is worth setting aside a couple of months to concentrate on branding yourself and building a following before starting to send out your proposal kit. Check out Instagram. The more you have an audience, the more you are going to be appealing to businesses. Across all your channels, have an exact look and wording and start putting out high-quality content.

It has become much easier to gain support while searching for opportunities because I have increased my social media accounts to the thousands.

Think outside the box

Think small up and coming companies and local. Think differently. How many funding applications do North Face obtain for climbing expeditions such as Mount Everest. A great example was when Bear Grylls dropped his idea for an Everest climb off at a random company named David, Landon and Everest simply because of the name; Bear Grylls was on the correct lines.

Do something cheaper if you can’t afford it. Don’t allow budget problems to interrupt your adventure. Take a look at how much money you have in your bank today, sell everything you don’t need, get on your bike, scooter or Kayak and hit the sunset. Avoid making excuses to postpone it. Book the flight or ticket and commit.

Cost more than you think

When I was beginning to look for funding, people gave me advice early on, and they were right.

For some reasons, an extra £ 1,000-£ 3,000 is not a significant sum for a medium or large corporation. Valuing yourself higher makes you more desirable. You should spend the extra money to ensure that your commitments are genuinely fulfilled to get pictures they can use, paying for a PR person to get you in the media, or using Instagram ads.


In terms of photographs, videos and press publicity, there is a lot to be said for the exposure you can give a company.

This is particularly true when working for a brand that has a brand (i.e., a clothing brand who want you to wear their clothes on the expedition). Companies spend thousands on photo shoots and content development, but by offering this service, they make investing in you a safe bet.

Learn from Others

I started talking to people who may have experience and started reading online as soon as I knew that I wanted to look for funding. Make yourself acquainted with anything relevant to the budget.


Most of my popular sponsorships came from brands with which I already had some partnership or bond. Even if it’s just a brand that’s been giving me a trial kit in the past or that I’ve been talking about, something like that. If you already have the name of a person to call, it is so much simpler, and it is much harder for them to say no if they know you! Start with your contacts or contacts from contacts for this purpose.

This is going to take a lot more personal approach than sending out blanket emails, unlike having funding in the form of free gear. To try to locate the right person to call, use LinkedIn. Start going to conferences and events where you can meet individuals working for fascinating businesses.

Networking lunches and activities also give great opportunities. Calling for a meeting or at least a phone call where possible. Try to get the right person in front of you so that you can get them in.

Final thought

Getting a sponsor certainly brings more stress and tension to an expedition. It’s a job. You get paid to provide a service.

There are moments when a lot of work will look like this. The support outweighed those obstacles for me, and I found that being supported emotionally strengthened my confidence and made me work harder to ensure that my expedition was a success.

You’re going to get rejections and failures, but try just to let them wash over you.  Continue to look on the bright side, and you still have your next lead. Remember to sell yourself and happy adventures.

Also, let me know what you are doing, and I will see if I can help. Please tag me in your stories on Instagram at @johnhorsfall

For Posts on Central Asia check Out

Looking to create your own Adventure? Pin this post for later!