Whether you are conducting a one-time fundraising event or an ongoing campaign, the keys to securing sponsors are similar. You will need to know the business goals of a potential sponsor so you can demonstrate that helping you helps the sponsor. Starting from this understanding, you can create an informative sponsorship proposal that shows a potential partner the benefits of getting involved with your fundraiser.
Understand Your Attendees
Potential sponsors want to know about your audience more than they want to know the details of your event. If you are approaching a business, the business will want to know whether your attendees are their customers. If you are soliciting an organization that gives grants, they will want to know whether their money will be used to benefit the populations they target. Write a list of any relevant demographics of your attendees, which might include their age, sex, parental status and geographic residence area.
Target the Best Prospects
Once you know exactly who your participants will be, start looking for companies and foundations that target your audience. Look at the sponsors and donors to similar events and organizations. Find members of your target attendee group – for example, parents of pre-teen children – and ask them what products and services they use.
List What You Can Offer
Determine what you can offer potential sponsors in terms of benefits. Unlike an out-and-out donation, a sponsorship is usually a marketing strategy businesses use to generate sales. You might offer any of the following:
• sponsor logos on T-shirts, brochures, signs and your website • program book ads • tickets to the event • sponsor names and logos on ticket stubs or backs • year-round website links on your site • chances for sponsors to present awards • exhibitor tables • product giveaway opportunities • attendee lists
Examine Your Needs
Decide what you need to make servicing a sponsor worthwhile. Examine your budget to determine how much money you need to make a sponsorship make sense financially. In addition to cash, consider trading for things you need, such as printing, T-shirts, catering, prizes, courtesy vehicles or airline tickets to fly in speakers. These are called “in-kind” donations.
Prepare Your Proposal
Start with a brief description of your event, beginning with what you hope to achieve. The macro purpose of the event might be to raise funds for a youth sports program, animal shelter or hospital. The more narrow focus of the event is the actual event itself, such as a casino night, banquet, parent-child dinner, golf tournament or 5K run. Include the dates, location, event format, past event attendance or projected attendance numbers. Divide your document into the following sections:
• fundraiser overview and goals • event description • sponsor benefits • information about your organization • sponsorship opportunities and fees • support materials
Make Your Pitch
Send your proposal with a cover letter that briefly states why you are contacting the sponsor and the fact that you and the potential sponsor have the same interest. Tell the reader that the accompanying packet will show how the sponsor can “do well while doing good.” Follow up with a phone call or request a personal meeting to answer any questions the sponsor might have.