Sponsorship requests could make or break your event. If you do not know how to properly make a sponsorship request, you may fail to raise the funds you need to move forward!
Identifying and securing sponsorship opportunities is an important part of any event or fundraiser and if you understand the best practices involved in crafting your request, you can land some pretty incredible sponsors!
Here’s what you need to know:
How to Make Your Event Attractive to Sponsors
Before you can make a request for money, you need to make sure that sponsoring your event presents an attractive opportunity for potential sponsors.
While many individuals and businesses love to support community events or help raise money for a non-profit organization, there needs to be a reward for them beyond helping you or a specific charity. There needs to be an incentive.
Here are some steps you can take to attract event sponsors and increase your chances of fundraising success:
- Qualify potential sponsors: Create a list of potential sponsors who are most likely to participate in your event. Begin by considering your target audience and then focus on brands or businesses that would be interested in reaching that audience. Then, think about the number of attendees you are expecting. Going after corporate sponsorship may not make sense for a small fundraising event, for example. By qualifying your sponsorship requests, you increase your chances of receiving a contribution.
- Create sponsorship levels: To make your event sponsorship request more attractive, create sponsorship levels. This will clarify your ask in your proposal level and provide sponsors with some options. With sponsorship levels and a well-thought-out sponsorship package, a prospective sponsor can comfortably decide how much support they would like to give. No one is locked into one specific amount.
- The number of levels you offer and the benefits that come with each level, will be determined by the size of your event or fundraiser. Each level should have its own name, like Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, and each one should have a specific contribution amount and a specific set of benefits to the donor.
- Benefits and incentives can include things like
- Naming rights
- Logo and/or name on the fundraiser or event’s marketing materials
- Free tickets to the event
- Include History/Details: When seeking sponsorship for a fundraiser it is important that any potential event sponsor you approach has a clear understanding of your cause. If you have run this event before, share relevant statistics. In the corporate world, hard data gets results. Share your previous attendance numbers (if they are good!); your audience and attendee demographics; details of your social media presence like impressions, shares, and clicks; and your fundraising totals from the year before. When making a sponsorship request for a fundraising event, it is also a good idea to explain exactly what the donated funds can do. Yes, share your final fundraising totals but explain what that amount of money can/is doing for the charitable organization or community that receives the money.This will give sponsors an idea of the event goals and help them determine whether or not the event provides the right opportunity for them. Having a solid idea of who will benefit will inspire individuals and brands to become more involved.
How to Make a Sponsorship Request or Sponsorship Proposal
Now that you have made yourself attractive to sponsors, it is time to actually make your sponsorship request. Before you can send a sponsorship request form or sponsorship application, you need to send a letter or email to potential sponsors so they know who you are and what you need.
Obviously, you will want to include the information we’ve listed above but sponsorship request letters are a bit of an art form and we want to help you master it and increase your chances of success.
Below are some tips and advice to help you master both the proposal and the follow up letters.
Writing an Introduction or Proposal Letter
Sometimes you will be writing to approaching a potential sponsor you have not worked with before other times, you will be approaching a long-time supporter. Both of these situations require a slightly different letter.
If you are creating a new potential partnership, you will need to “warm” your relationship by sending an introductory letter.
Before you draft or send your introduction letter, take a little time to explore the business, company, or brand you are approaching. Explore their website or Linkedin accounts to find out who the letter should be addressed to. Finding the right employee is half the battle.
Once you’ve identified this person, you can make a connection with the company and work your way through the proper channels.
Some tips for the introduction letter include:
- Keep it short and sweet: Your ultimate goal at this point is to create a relationship so keep your introduction short and to the point. Focus on the ways sponsoring your event could be valuable to the company and let them know that you share a target audience. Remember, you are not just looking for money, you are looking for a long-term partnership. Try to do this in as few sentences as possible.
- Keep it interesting and clear: Your goal is to keep the reader’s attention and make them interested in or curious about your event. Do not muddy the letter with unnecessary details. If you make the wrong impression, it is unlikely that your sponsorship request will move any further.
- Get down to business: Obviously, you do not want to be too abrupt but you also want to respect the reader’s time. Do not waste valuable minutes with niceties like “hope you had a great weekend,” get down to business right away.
- Include details about the potential sponsor: Each introduction letter should be crafted for the recipient. You can create a template, of course, but make sure that you are able to include personal, identifying information for each sponsor you approach. This shows them that you have taken the time to get to know them and identify that they are a fit for your event instead of just sending out a form letter.
The proposal letter is one that you will send to people with whom you are already familiar and have worked with in the past. This letter will reacquaint you and allow you to spark interest in your upcoming event.
Like the introductory letter, you will want to keep this pitch short and share only the relevant and important details. If this business or individual has sponsored this event in the past, share a quick hit of stats detailing the success of that event and fill them in on the incredible difference that was made with the funds raised.
Because you will already be familiar to this sponsor, you don’t have to work too hard to sell yourself. Just remind them about how much you (and hopefully they!) enjoyed your previous partnership.
The Follow Up
Once you have sent your introduction or proposal, you will need to follow up.
Similarly, if you have met someone at a networking event or around town and you think they will be a good fit or they expressed an interest, follow up.
Follow up after Introduction/Proposal Letter
It is best to follow up directly or in person. If someone has shown interest in event sponsorship, set a meeting. Call the appropriate employee and set a date. In doing so, you can go over your sponsorship package in person and show them exactly how they are the right fit for your event.
Follow up after an Initial Connection
If you met a potential sponsor at an industry event or through a mutual connection, send a follow up letter or email.
Keep the letter brief. If you have met before, say so. Give the sponsor some context for your letter.
Ask for their opinion on your event plans by requesting a 15-minute meeting or phone call. From there, you can go over your packages and plans once you have gotten to know each other a little better.
Do not be afraid to be direct in your request for a face-to-face. Give them a clear call to action. Pick a date and time and wait for a response. They will either accept that meeting, choose a new time, or say then and there that they aren’t interested, allowing you both to save time and effort.
The Thank You Letter
One of the most important elements of a sponsorship request comes after your event is over and your fundraising efforts have come to a close.
Sending a thank you letter will not only show your sponsors that you appreciate them, but it will also serve to build a relationship and possibly secure funding for your future events.
While showing your gratitude for their sponsorship, be sure to let them know what exactly you did to highlight their company or brand, the number of attendees you had, the total funds raised, and any stats that were relevant to your partnership.
Send this thank you within a week of your event. We know how exhausting it is to host events and fundraisers and we know you’ll just want to crash, but get this done first. It really is an important step in the process and it will help boost your reputation!
Making a sponsorship request can feel overwhelming. It may take a hard ‘no’ or two before you find your perfect matches. But if you and your fundraising team follow the best practices laid out above, you’ll find the process a whole lot simpler.