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Do you make this mistake when applying for fellowships?

I have been talking to many different folks who got funding to attend different events and I'm surprised that so many people do not know this simple principle: the full cup v. the empty cup.

Imagine this situation:

You are a member of the judging committee that will give fellowships for attending a certain conference. And you have received dozens of emails requesting funding.

After some filtering based on skills, geographical location and other objective profiles, you have to make a choice between the following two messages:

An Empty-Cup Request would go like this:

Dear Sir,

My name is Mr. Empty-Cup and I would like to request a fellowship to attend your event. I come from a developing country and cannot afford to attend the conference without financial support.

There is generally a little bit of extra fluff but the overall message is "my cup is empty, please fill it".

The second request would be a Full-Cup Proposal:

Dear Sir,

My name is Mr. Full-Cup and I'm the focal point of the Initiative for Online Security in ExampleLand. This year our group provided cybersecurity training for nine local communities across ExampleLand. You can find a detailed report attached.

To follow up, we would like to participate in your conference, particularly to showcase our work, connect with speakers Mr. Brown and Mr. White who are listed in the programme for a project we intend to launch next year. Currently there is an online platform for discussion, www.example.com

If support is given, we will also be enthused to enhance awareness about your organization among our local community by writing blog posts with reports about the conference and creating a study group with monthly meetings on this subject.

Got the point?

Of course, you have to keep your promises. If you say you will do such and such reporting, debates and lots of fireworks, stick to your word and OVERDELIVER.

Change the mindset: instead of asking for a fellowship, think how YOU can help people out. Always give more than you promised. Surprise people. Be excellent.

Needless to say, communities who gather around one theme (Internet governance for instance) are very small so everybody knows everybody. If you are an empty-cup value taker pretending to be a full cup... everyone will know about it sooner than you imagine.

So, how do YOU show up with a full cup?

p.s. this post, as well as everything I write, is my personal opinion and does not reflect the official position of any group I'm affiliated with. I also share a lot of flawed ideas hoping that by bringing them to the conversation more voices can jump in and help me in this maturity ;-)

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Comment by Shahzad Ahmad on June 28, 2010 at 3:48pm
awesome... now I know that why all my such requests are turned down ;) LOL
Comment by Azeem Sajjad on October 16, 2009 at 11:18am
V. nice!
Comment by Maja on August 27, 2009 at 1:57pm
Great post!
Comment by Seiiti on August 26, 2009 at 4:43pm
Pascal, that's a good idea! Maybe we could suggest the community to put a list together here?
Comment by Seiiti on August 26, 2009 at 4:42pm
If you want to see one model of great reporting, check this one made by Ehsan Norouzi about his experience in Meissen, Germany on the Internet Governance Summer School:

Comment by Marsha Guthrie on August 25, 2009 at 11:53pm
Couldn't have explained it better Seiiti.
Comment by Shreedeep Rayamajhi on August 23, 2009 at 4:46am
wow seiiti very creative and innovative
I think that work with so many people, really witty and helpful
Comment by Pascal G. Bekono on August 23, 2009 at 2:01am
Thank You Seiiti

Is it possible to have a "list" of potential sponsors on IG ?
Comment by AMINOU NDALA on August 22, 2009 at 8:34pm
Great idea Seiiti.........Most of us have been applying with an empty cup. I trust your formular and I hope it works for me and most of my friends.
Comment by Charity Gamboa-Embley on August 22, 2009 at 6:12am
Seiiti, let me add, too, that if you are applying for a fellowship and they ask you about the relevance of your work to the fellowship that you are applying to, they want to know that you KNOW what you are talking about. I think you need to elaborate and like you said "over-deliver." It's short of saying that you are selling yourself. But not just all talk- they want to know what you are currently DOING and what you intend to do once you get the fellowship.



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