Currently, I am writing my Bachelor's thesis by doing an internship at a technical company in the Netherlands. As I am a student, I am also part of a non-profit student association which works with technical companies and gives them a way to reach international students.

Currently, the association is planning a networking event for companies and students and I am in charge of contacting companies to see if they would be interested in sponsoring the event and participating in it. I know that such an event would be interesting for my company, but I feel like I have a conflict of interest here. Additionally, I feel like offering my company to sponsor my study association is not appropriate since I am an intern and within my workplace it is not my job whatsoever to seek out partnerships.

Is it appropriate for me to pursue my company as a business contact in this case? If not, what would be the best course of action here?

  • It really sounds fine and non-problematic.
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


IANAL, but I do not see any conflict of interest in approaching your company for sponsorship. As long as you're not in a position of making (or influencing) the decision and you're acting as a medium of communication, I do not see any ethical issues, at least.

However, if you approach, make is clear that you are associated with the non-profit organization. Also, make sure to include authoritative sources whom the organization can contact should they feel interested in participating and extending a sponsorship. Your role just ends in getting the offer communicated. Let any further processing / discussion be handled by someone else from the non-profit organization.

You can send a communication to the concerned department like:

"Hello, this is to inform you that an organization called so-and-so does so-and-so work for the benefit of the organizations and the students by acting as a medium of communication which means that organizations and students can get in touch with each other without the need for several individual communications, thereby reducing the time and effort required to make the search or right talent easier.

As a volunteer, I am trying to see if our organization would want to be a part of the network by participating in one of the upcoming event dated X-Y-Z.

Also, as the non-profit runs on donation, I am also trying to find out whether it will be possible for our organization to make a donation towards the event as a sponsorship. For any further details, please reach out to PQR. Thanks"

  • Regarding your first sentence, I don't think the fact that it's non-profit plays into the decision about conflict of interest. There's still plenty of opportunity for conflicts of interest regardless of the taxable status of either entity. I agree with your answer in spirit but just wanted to point that out.
    – dwizum
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 12:55
  • @dwizum The source of that statement is, in most of the business / employment contract, the term "business competitor" is mentioned. IANAL again, but a non-profit usually does not count towards a business competition However, feel free to edit it, if you have an alternate wording to make it better. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 12:59
  • Conflict of interest is (IME at least) interpreted more broadly than just your competition, and indicates any situation where the employee may be making decisions with bias because of personal gain due to a relationship to any other entity. For instance, a vendor favoring a specific customer because of a personal relationship. Again, I agree with you that there's no conflict here, but I don't think it's because of the nonprofit status. It's because, simply, there's no conflict.
    – dwizum
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:05
  • @dwizum Well, in that case, I'll leave the non-profit part out. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:15
  • Thank you all for your inputs and thanks @SouravGhosh for an example of how to approach it.
    – Mu3
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 6:41

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