Attracting Event Sponsors – It’s All About Having a Game Plan

Sponsorship asks can be a daunting task if you’re not equipped with the proper tools. When attempting to secure corporate sponsors, regardless of your event, you’ll want to do your homework before you dive on in.

Who cares?

Naturally, you care about your event, but before you go throwing a party it’s important to make sure you’re not the only one. Take the time to figure out who your audience really is; you might be surprised that more people have enough of a stake in your event to put money towards it than you initially thought.

A well-crafted sponsorship proposal should outline a specific reason for outreach to a company and include a targeted sponsor list. Ideally, sponsors should at least be familiar with your event, organization or cause, but not always; if you can make the case for why their sponsorship of your event would benefit them, you can approach anyone.

A great place to start is with people you know and work with everyday within your own existing network of colleagues, clients, and vendors. These companies can include nearly anyone including your bank, accounting firm, distributors, and more. Whoever makes your list, be sure to prioritize them; if you’re hosting an annual event, give last year’s sponsors the opportunity to come back and ask them first.

Just as important as reaching out to the right organization, is reaching out to the right person within that organization. Calling up everyone in the neighborhood to solicit sponsors is not only likely to be a waste of time, it can also reflect poorly on you and ruin potential prospects in the future. Chances are high that someone who doesn’t handle sponsorships or recognize a legitimate request will hang up immediately if the first words they hear are “I have a great opportunity for you…”

To avoid getting the cold shoulder, it is important to make sure that you are asking the right person, otherwise your efforts will be wasted. Typically, contacts in the marketing department are appropriate, however, depending on the size of the firm there may be a department specifically designed to handle community events.

What’s in it for me?

As a fundraiser, you understand the implications of a successful event for your own company, but are you guilty of ignoring the wants and needs of your sponsors? It is important to remain cognizant of what an event sponsorship means to the sponsoring organization, and what their marketing objectives are. Researching this information will help you formulate relevant sponsorship packages tailored to prospective companies.

Sponsorships aren’t just a way for organizations to support the causes that align with their core values. Sponsorships also provide targeted exposure that general advertisements can’t buy. While being mindful of your own needs, the successful fundraiser must establish a sponsorship package that bears this in mind.Sponsors need hear to why you believe they are a good fit for your event, especially today, when there are more events competing for attention than ever before.

Your proposal should outline your event demographics, including attendee age, gender, and geographic area. Be sure to highlight sponsorship benefits that the organization will gain from your event including overall impressions, discounted tickets and exclusive access, promotional rights, or brand recognition and loyalty. Let the pending organization know what other organizations are being asked or who have already committed to sponsorship. This will help to leverage your event’s prominence and help your corporate partner envision the event’s possibilities.

Avoid the “spray and pray.”

Once you’ve established who to target, you should think logically about what a reasonable contribution would look like from a sponsor. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily ask a small screen printing shop to be the marquis $50,000 sponsor of your event.

Instead of approaching 30 sponsors for $1,000 each, try approaching three for $10,000 first, as this strategy will likely get you to your fundraising goal a lot faster. Depending on the event, it may also make sense to offer various sponsorship levels to entice sponsors who cannot afford higher price tags, but make sure to lead with higher levels while keeping lower levels open for negotiation.

Timing is everything when pitching your event. Most sponsors make decisions during the last quarter of the year in preparation for the following year’s budget. If possible, consider seeking sponsorships for your event around this time. More importantly, give yourself enough lead time while your proposal makes its way through your target’s decision-making process. This is especially true when requesting large sponsorships.

So, now what?

The most important thing you can do after an ask is follow up. If an organization has expressed interest in your event, it is still not the organization’s responsibility to reach back out to you. Don’t expect that an implied “yes” means “yes” without significant follow-through.

When following up on a sponsorship lead the trick is to be diligent, but not overbearing. The sooner you can get a fast “no”, the sooner you can seek out other prospects for funding. Remember, sponsorship asks serve as a basis for a starting discussion and help to develop future relationships. It may not be possible to get everything you want from a sponsor, but do not be afraid of a compromise now to create a win-win situation later.

Need a hand?

Sponsorship asks are manageable with the right connections, but they can also be tedious and require extensive project management. Interested in getting sponsors for your next big event? We can help! To schedule a free consultation, call us at (207) 619-7350 or send an email to

— by Destinee Cyr, 2017-2018 Broadreach Public Relations Apprentice