Should Graduate Fog accept money for sponsorship?


The Graduate Fog community includes tens of thousands of unpaid interns, underpaid juniors, and graduates struggling to get by on benefits from the State and hand-outs (accepted reluctantly) from your parents.

So we don’t need to go through the basic reasons why people – including this website’s founder – need money to survive in this brutal, capitalist world (!). Just as unpaid interns find you can’t pay your gas bill with experience, bloggers like Graduate Fog’s Tanya de Grunwald can’t pay her rent with website traffic (20,000 visits per month), SEO points (Google page rank 5) or media mentions (thank you the Guardian, Telegraph, Evening Standard, Sky News, etc).

But the time has come when we need to get serious about what’s happening here. In the true Graduate Fog spirit of “telling it like it is”, we hope you don’t mind us saying it: this website rocks. We’re not tooting our own horn here – a huge part of the energy of Graduate Fog comes from you, the readers.

It is your anger that keeps us battling for you, challenging the people with political and economic power to offer you a better deal as you struggle to join the world of work (we hate bullies as much as you do).

It is your comments that generate the in-depth, intellectual discussion we are proud to host on our pages.

And it is your enthusiasm that spreads the word about Graduate Fog. In the nearly four years the site has been running, we have not once had to worry about ‘marketing’. We just keep producing the stories that you love, knowing you’ll tweet and share them if you think they’re worthy of your friends’ attention. (Thank you – again – for continuing to do this).

Most people who visit Graduate Fog can see its value – and its potential. We can see it too. But to take it to the next level, we’re going to need a bigger boat. Or at least a bit of cash. So it’s really exciting that several companies have asked to meet us to talk about our plans to offer sponsorship on Graduate Fog.

We don’t really want to sell Graduate Fog – or even a stake in the site (for one thing, we’d have no idea what to charge!). So but the idea of sponsorship and advertising is something we’d like to explore. What would that look like on Graduate Fog? What is naff and horrible – and what is fair enough? We already have two small sponsors – you may have seen the discreet adverts for The Big Choice and Career Player – but now lots of other people are interested to. Whose calls should we take? And is there anyone we should refuse to meet? It’s an exciting time for Graduate Fog, but we need to think carefully about how to proceed.

We only want to work with organisations that share our values. Obviously, we would never accept cash from anyone who continues to profit from the work of unpaid interns. So that cancels out the fashion, music, film, TV, journalism and PR industry. Art galleries and museums too (not that they have any money). We’re not mad about energy companies either. Or pay day lenders. Or gambling companies.

But probably the worst idea of all would be to accept Government money. That would mean we’d have to delete most of the content on Graduate Fog and scrap the brilliant investigations and reports we’ve got coming up in the next few months.

And we’d find it impossible to bite our tongue the next time David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson, George Osborne or Iain Duncan Smith say something dumb about interns, graduates or youth unemployment. Which happens pretty regularly.

What makes Graduate Fog powerful is that we can say anything we like (well, Inspiring Interns’ lawyers permitting). A partner who wanted to curb that freedom would be no partner at all.

So now we’ve crossed dozens of companies off our list, who is left? We’d like to ask you – Graduate Fog’s users – what you think. Would it upset you to see a big bank sponsoring this site? What about the ‘Big Four’ consultancies? A law firm? Companies who have unpaid interns are off-limits, but what about those who hire staff on zero-hours contracts? Or supermarkets with iffy supply chains? Or retailers whose garments are manufactured in unregulated factories in Bangladesh?

We’d genuinely love to know what you think, so if you feel strongly please comment below. That way, we can take your views into account in the next few months, as we make important and exciting decisions to secure the future of Graduate Fog. Thank you for reading – and for supporting the site!


Or should we just keep this website small – or find some other source of finance (suggestions please!)? If we did accept funds from a sponsor, what sort of company would that be? Is there anybody you think we shouldn’t work with?

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