Getting your event, team, or other organization sponsored may seem like an impossible task. The sponsorship market is highly competitive and not everyone who needs or wants to be sponsored will. But don't stress, because we're about to show you how to approach this problem professionally. Here is how to get sponsored in 5 simple steps.
Nothing is more frustrating to prospecitve sponsors than a sponsorship request that doesn't make it clear what is desired. Do you need cash, product support, or something else? Its also counterproductive for you or your organization to go out looking for sponsorship support if you aren't sure what you need. You may end up getting sponsorships that do not meet your needs, in which case, you've handed over your sponsorship capital in exchange for too little. Once you've done that, you'll be in a very difficult position. So, before you do anything, sit down and make a list of everything you need to get out of your sponsorship search. This will guide you later in the process.
Getting sponsored means taking yourself or your organization into a very competitive and crowded marketplace. Your prospective sponsors will be bombarded with requests to sponsor a wide array of individuals and organizations, far more than they can actually support. In order to earn their support, you will have to stand out in this crowd. For that reason, it is critical that you produce a highly professional sponsorship package. Producing this document is tedious and time-consuming, but it is critical that you invest the right amount of time and energy in this phase of the game.
Your sponsorhip package will consist of a sponsorship proposal letter and an accompanying sponsorship levels document outlining the benefits that your prospective sponsors can expect in exchange for several levels of support of you or your organization. It is critical that you align your sponsorship levels with the needs you identified in Step 1 of this process, so that you can be sure that when you have filled all of your sponsorship levels, you will have met all of your needs. You may also include a sponsorship pledge form for interested sponsors to complete and send back to you.
Once you have completed your professional sponsorship package, you must identify as many prospective sponsors as possible. There are several ways to do this. The first, and probably most important, is to identify companies that you have some personal contact or association with. These may be businesses where you know the owners or employees or businesses that have worked with or sponsored you or your organization in the past. These are your low-hanging fruits since you are more likey to get attention from a prospective sponsor if they already know who you are or have already supported you in the past. For some people or organizations, this list may be long. For others, it may be short or non-existent.
The next step toward identifying prospective sponsors is to identify companies or organizations that already sponsor people or organizations like yours. This can usually be accomplished by visiting the websites of these organizations and looking at their sponsors pages. Once this is done, you should also add to your list of prospective sponsors any local or regional companies that you know of who may be a good match for the benefits you are offering. These may include companies whose products appeal to your audience and whose businesses may clearly benefit from association with you or your organization.
After you have completed your list of prospective sponsors, you must go one step further and try to identify the individual in that organization who is responsible for sponsorship management. To do this, you will have to either locate this information on the company's website, or if it is not available there, you will have to contact the business via the telephone and ask them who is responsible for managing sponsorships and charitable giving. If they are unwilling to identifty an individual, identify yourself or your organization and cordially ask them where you should send your sponsorship package. Record this data someplace safe so that you can use it later on when you are sending out your sponsorship packages.
At this stage, you are ready to get sponsored. For each prospective sponsor you have identified, produce a personalized sponsorship proposal letter that highlights the specific reasons you think you or your organization are a good fit for their sponsorship dollars. This letter can be mostly identical for each prospective sponsor, but you should add something special to each letter so that its clear that you are speaking directly to the business in question and aren't send out boilerplate text to everyone that is identical. Bundle this letter with your sponsorship levels document and pledge form (if you are including one), and send it to the person you identified in Step 3.
Once you have sent out your sponsorship package, wait about 5-7 business days, and if you haven't heard anything back, place a phone call to the individual who you sent the package to. The purpose of this phone call isn't to ask if they are going to sponsor you, Instead, let them know that you sent them a sponsorship package and want to confirm that they received it. If they did not, then offer to send another one. If they did, offer to answer any questions they may have and let them know that you are available anytime to discuss the specifics of the package should they need more information. Fiinally, let them know that you would really be excited to partner with their organization and bid them a nice day. If you get their voicemail, it is appropriate to leave a message, but make sure to let them know you would like to talk with them when they have time.
At this stage, it pays to be available without seeming desperate or pushy. Remember that you're not going to convert every single prospect into a sponsor. There can be a variety of reason for this, incuding fiscal cycles that prohibit new sponsorship committments at this time, current committments to other individuals or organizations that have locked up all available sponsorship dollars, or a feeling that you aren't a good match. Its better to remain on good terms with the organizations that do not choose to work with you because they may change their minds and come around later. So don't take it personally if you are rejected. Just try again next year.
This is the fun part and the whole reason you started this process to begin with. If you've done a good job up to this point, you should start to have some successes. If you have included a sponsorship pledge form with your sponsorship package, you may begin to get these back. Each time you get one of these back, place a call to your new sponsor and thank them for their support. Ask them if its okay to send them an invoice for the amount they've agreed to donate. Or, if their donation is of products or services, ask them how they would like to handle fulfillment of that pledge. If you or your organization requires a contract, have that ready for your new sponsor to review. And don't be surprised if your new sponsor comes with their own legal documents for your to complete and sign. If they do, be sure you read them carefully so that you are aware of what you are agreeing to. It would be wise to consult with legal counsel to make sure these types of agreements are reasonable before signing anything.
Congratulations! You've done it! You got sponsored!