What Is Event Sponsorship?
We're used to seeing corporate logos and sponsors on many different types of events - everything from the Olympics to your local 4th of July parade. Many nonprofits think their event is too small to attract sponsors, or that managing a sponsorship program takes too many resources they don't have. What is event sponsorship?
Event sponsorship is a marketing opportunity for a company to get positive PR and increase brand awareness by supporting an event either by paying a fee or by providing in-kind services.
In exchange for a fee or providing free services or materials, companies get to display their logo or name to your supporters and attendees and use their support of your cause in their own PR materials. Nonprofits and community groups that organize events open to the public have valuable assets they can sell or rent to increase their bottom line. Many corporate sponsors want to target their marketing to your supporters: event sponsorship can be a win/win for your nonprofit and for businesses in your community who want to get valuable goodwill and positive PR.
Sponsorship: Is It Right for Your Event?
What Assets Can You Offer Sponsors
Create an inventory of what assets you can offer your sponsors and their value. Include in your inventory an itemized list of promotional opportunities, and assign a dollar value to each asset.
- Event Attendees and Patrons and Donors
How many people attend your event, and how many volunteers and donors support your event? Each attendee and supporter is a valuable asset that sponsors want to reach.
- Digital Footprint
How many people follow you on social media, visit your website and receive your newsletter? Sponsors want to use your introduction and associated goodwill to create a favorable impression.
Look for opportunities to display their logo or company name on event signs, banners, flyers and programs, newsletters and emails and other event promotional materials and venues.
Event attendees and volunteers love swag! Event sponsors can be offered the opportunity to pay for their logo or name on t-shirts, caps, phone cases, tote bags and other event giveaways for your supporters or attendees.
- VIP Events
Backstage access, special VIP receptions, opening night galas and other invitation-only activities for your event are an opportunity for your event sponsors to mingle with your biggest supporters and donors.
How To Find Event Sponsors
Have a brainstorming session with your team, board members, volunteers and vendors to identify businesses in your area who are aligned with your mission, are already your supporters, and who you believe have demographics in line with your event supporters'.
- Write a pitch letter
Introduce your sponsorship opportunity with a letter to potential corporate sponsors, emphasizing both the benefits of their sponsorship as well as the cost of event sponsorship. Your pitch letter should be customized based on the type of business you're soliciting, any personal introductions, and specifics to their brand or target audience. Don't make it look like a form letter!
- Request a meeting
Follow-up your pitch letter with personal phone calls to your targeted sponsors to pitch your sponsorship package in person.
- Follow-up with everyone
After your pitch, follow up with all your sponsor prospects, those who said yes, those who said no, and those who didn't respond at all. This year's no could become next year's yes!
Communicate Throughout and After Your Event
Once your prospect says yes, continue to update them before, during and after your event is over. Don't limit your contacts to once a year when you're asking for financial support. Communication makes them feel part of the team and better informed for when they talk about your event to their colleagues and customers.
- Include sponsor's names and logos in your event PR as supporters of the event, beyond what you committed to in their sponsor agreement.
- During and after the event provide statistics and facts on their sponsorship impact:
- impressions on social media
- newsletter distribution sends and opens
- number of event attendees
- photos of ads, banners, and promotional materials their name and logo appeared on
- media and PR coverage of your event and when their name was included
- money and donations raised, volunteers recruited, services provided
- Write thank you letters to your sponsors after the event telling them the impact their support made.
- Add sponsors to your annual report distribution list and newsletter mailing list.
If you're not sure how to assess the value of your assets, or how to develop a sponsorship proposal you can hire sponsorship and event marketing professionals to help you assign a value to your assets, find corporate sponsors for your event, and increase the visibility of your event as well as your bottom line!
For more event marketing tips read: Tips for Event Marketing on a Budget