Seeking sponsorship is a wonderful, but sometimes confusing, part of event. I get asked about sponsorship weekly and as someone who helped build up a national charity with no office, no budget and only fundraisers to fund our programs, I quickly learnt a thing or two about how to build ongoing and mutually beneficial relationships with sponsors. Since then, I haven't run one event without some form of sponsorship.
Sponsorship, when done the right way, is a great win/win for everybody.
Businesses can gain exposure to a new audience through your event without having to fork out wads of cash for a PR company or advertising campaign. And you get a wonderful value add to your event.
Sponsorship can cover many different areas including:
+ The venue
+ Services like AV/photography/video
+ Goodie bag items
+ Decor and floral arrangements
+ Or even speakers and MCs
It's up to you how much sponsorship you would like to pursue (I've done wholly sponsored events before) but I strongly advise having a budget for everything you need just in case.
You don't want to be left up the creek with a paddle you can't get everything sponsored!
I have two rules and five steps that I follow for each event:
Only seek sponsorship with businesses that you actually believe in.
Basically, just go with companies that you would support anyway and don't sell your soul.
Give as much as you receive. No-one wants to feel used, even big businesses who can 'afford' it.
Fostering an ongoing relationship is much more rewarding than burning bridges.
Now for the steps!
Write a list of your sponsorship needs, together with the sponsorship benefits your business and event can provide eg. social media shout outs, website and ticketing page presence, professional photographs or complimentary tickets to the event.
Make a list of the companies you think would be a good fit, go to their websites to see if they have any information regarding applying for sponsorship and go to their social media pages and see if they have any campaigns and promotions that can be tied in to your event.
Create a kick ass proposal that cannot be refused! Include information regarding who you are, what you do, what your event is all about, why they should come on board and what you can offer in return.
Send personalised email to each business with a copy of the proposal. Remember to always be courteous in all communications. Less 'Here is my proposal, Thanks' and more 'Thank you so much for taking the time to view my proposal and I hope to hear from you soon'. Don't annoy the reader with a less than impressive introduction.
When you get the sponsors, do the work! Give them everything you said you would and in a timely manner.
And a personal thank you post event is an absolute necessity - surprise them with a card in the mail or collection of photographs from the event. I promise it will make a huge difference.
When I work with my client on sponsorship, we do spend a large amount of time ensuring the sponsors being approached are the right fit and that the proposal is personalised and enticing as well as clearly professional.
Take your time with it all and good luck!