Those who have organized a successful fundraiser know the importance of having great sponsors.When you host a fundraiser, your primary goals are to create awareness and raise money. One of the most effective ways to do this is through corporate sponsors.Whether your event is large or small, fundraiser sponsorship brings a level of legitimacy to your cause, while also significantly contributing to your proceeds.This combination of increased revenue and added exposure is the key to scaling the size of your fundraiser, year after year. Additionally, a healthy collection of sponsors can help spread the word and signal to your donors that your fundraising event is worth attending!We’re sure that you already know how important sponsorship can be to your fundraising efforts, but sometimes attracting, and closing, those sponsorships can be a long and difficult process.But don’t worry, we’ve created the Ultimate Guide to Fundraiser Sponsorship to help you out! In this guide you will learn about all aspects of sponsorship with a focus on these key areas:
At Accelevents we have extensive experience hosting fundraisers and working with charitable organizations and believe this guide will be the tool you need to attract new sponsors, grow your event year over year, and increase donations for your worthy cause!
The very first step that you (and your employees or planning committee) should take is identifying the opportunity for fundraiser sponsorship at your next event.While sponsorship can apply to fundraising events of all sizes, the nature of sponsorship can vary greatly. To begin this process, consider some of the following criteria:
How large is your event? Do you have an expected number of attendees? Estimating the size of your audience will help you gauge the size of sponsors to pursue. If you plan on having a very large event with 400+ attendees, you will have a great chance of attracting large sponsors on a national level. Smaller events may have more luck focusing on smaller sponsors found in the community where the event is taking place like a local restaurant or business.
Knowing your target audience will be key to understanding your fundraiser sponsorship approach.By identifying certain elements of your audience (age, employment, geographic location), you can tailor your efforts and target only the most relevant sponsors.For example, our annual event consists of over 1,000 young professionals and millennials. Knowing this about our audience allows our committee to target sponsors interested in gaining exposure to such an audience. For us, this may include younger startups or corporations that are keen on growing their consumer base amongst a younger demographic.
Your event location will include both your physical venue and any potential digital or online plans you may have.Knowing your venue ahead of time will allow you to create a more informed sponsorship package, detailing specific exposure opportunities for your sponsors. These typically include logo placements, banners, promotional materials and mentions at the event.While these physical elements will be key to attracting sponsors, knowing your online or digital presence will also be a major draw for sponsors. Do you plan on having an event website, Eventbrite page, and social media pages dedicated to your fundraiser?If the answer is yes, your event will automatically become much more attractive to potential sponsors as they will see the clear value in generating online impressions.Pro tip: When creating online “real-estate” for your fundraiser, try to plan ahead and create immersive or engaging elements. Use your online pages to create teasers for your audience, or allow people to donate online through a mobile or online fundraiser. This will create a more interesting experience for your audience, potentially increase the amount of money raised, and generate an overall positive experience that potential event sponsors will be clamoring to join!Once your team has carefully considered the above criteria, you will have a better understanding of the event sponsorship opportunities available to you -- both in terms of the amount of sponsorship money you can hope to bring in and they type of sponsors you should be going after.With this knowledge, you can then set a goal for the amount of sponsorship your team should try to secure. Set a firm goal and communicate that goal early, and often, to your committee.Remember, newer events may attract less sponsorship than an established event with a proven track record. When setting your sponsorship goals, make sure you are being reasonable.
Now that you have gauged the sponsorship potential for your fundraising event, it’s time to create your fundraiser sponsorship package!A fundraiser sponsorship package is a valuable tool and resource that your committee can use when approaching prospective sponsors.When creating your sponsorship package, it is critical to remember that the primary function of the package will be to clearly communicate the inspiration, messaging, and history of your event, while also providing information on the different sponsorship levels that are available.Your sponsorship package should include:
Take a moment to describe what your event is all about. Key details to include are:
One of the most important sections to include will explain the history or inspiration behind the event.Provide a glimpse into the origin of the event and explain the story behind why you are supporting the cause or organization. Doing this will help you stand out from the hundreds of other requests your potential sponsor may receive.If you have been running your event for more than year, be sure to include information on the growth of the event over time. Be sure to indicate if you have seen a growth in attendance and money raised. If you’ve managed growth in both areas, you’ll be an even more attractive candidate!Once you have described your motivations and the history of your fundraising event, be sure to include information about the cause or organization you are supporting. Provide a mission statement for the organization and any progress or advancements they have made since their beginning.
Hard data is important when making a sponsorship request. It is one of the best ways to enable these potential sponsors to measure the potential cost against any potential benefit.Even if you are expecting small audience numbers, this audience may consist of a demographic your sponsor has been trying to target!When we host our annual Boston fundraiser, we focus heavily on our large attendance numbers and the fact that it is millennials and young professionals who come out to support the event.Some other sources of data that you may be able to use include:
Now that you’ve provided context and piqued the interest of potential sponsors, it is time to ask for their help and participation.A strong call to action will lay out the steps that should be taken in order to participate as a sponsor.At this time, it is helpful to provide information on what their potential contribution would mean to the cause or organization you are supporting. For example, if a $1000 contribution will provide meals to impoverished children for a week, let them know. Sponsors are more join in if they can visualize the impact their contribution will have.
The most critical portion of your fundraiser sponsorship package will be your sponsorship tiers. Each tier will have a set of aspects attached to them that will correspond with a specific level of contribution.The different monetary levels will be determined by the size of your event.Typically, levels are broken into categories, making the ask much clearer. For example, you may consider offering Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorships. Get creative here if you wish and come up with names that correspond more closely to your event.Common sponsorship aspects that appear in most fundraiser sponsorship packages include:
Finally, don’t forget to include your contact information and the address to which your sponsors can send their contributions, as well as any materials you will need from them (logo files, etc.).Keep in mind that your fundraiser sponsorship package is a great way to start conversations with your sponsors. Emphasize that your different tiers are just guidelines – leave sponsorship opportunities open to discussion, in case your potential sponsors are interested in a custom experience outside of the original details provided in your sponsorship package.Always be prepared to be flexible.
Once you and your committee have identified sponsorship opportunities and created a compelling fundraiser sponsorship package, you can begin contacting and closing sponsorship deals!Because this is arguably the most important part of fundraiser sponsorship, we’ve broken this section down into four subsections:
Phone and Email – The largest portion of your sponsorship communication and outreach will consist of sending emails and making phone calls to potential sponsors. As with many sales processes, your goal here will be to contact as many potential sponsors as you can, in order to create a pipeline of potential donors.
Social Media – We’ve found that social media can be a very powerful tool to start conversations with potential companies and sponsors. In our experience, the social channels that have worked best include:
Friends and Family –While the above channels may be the most time-consuming and are likely to provide a large volume of sponsors, your most effective prospecting, and potentially your largest opportunities, will come from leveraging your network of friends and family.Your friends and family are people who already trust you and will be able to more easily relate to the cause you’re supporting. Furthermore, they should be more than willing to connect you with any contacts they have who might be interested in acting as a sponsor for your fundraising event. Ask your friends and family to make these connections for you, and try to set up phone calls or in-person meetings with these potential sponsors.
Once you have identified potential channels for communication with sponsors, we suggest creating a prospecting and outreach plan. To create an effective plan, be sure to:
To help you and your team tackle the process of closing sponsors for your event, we’ve put together some real examples of messages that we have used ourselves! You can also find a few more great examples of donation letter requests here.To begin, our team will typically send an introductory email or Facebook Messenger post to a potential sponsor. These messages may look something like this:
Here, be sure to note a few key elements of the messages used:
After your first contact, you’ve hopefully received a response from the person you’ve contacted, and can continue your discussion by setting up a phone call or in-person meeting.What you will probably find, however, is that you do not receive many responses on your first outreach. If this is the case, we suggest sending another email / message / call a few days to a week later, quickly touching base with an email similar to the screenshot below:
With the follow-up messages, you’ll notice that they do not contain as much information as the first message. Another tactic here is to add in some information on any other sponsors you have secured already, as this will signal to new potential sponsors that your event is an important one and they would be missing out if they do not participate!As you (and your committee) continue reaching out to potential sponsors, it is important to stick to some sort of process. One of our favorite ways to keep track of those you have contacted is by creating a simple spreadsheet, with the following columns:
Using a document like this will allow you to check in on those you have contacted each day, allowing you to plan your follow-up messages or phone calls.
Over the years, we have learned a few tips and tricks that should help as your team begins soliciting sponsors for your next fundraising event.
Donating funds to your fundraising event is extremely generous, so don’t forget to adequately acknowledge your sponsors.Of course, the first thing you should do is make sure each of your sponsors receives the recognition they deserve based on their tier/contribution level. As discussed before, this could be anything from logo placements on your website to signage at your fundraising event.Another great way to give some added attention to your sponsors is to make a quick announcement at your event. Here, you will spend most of your time thanking your attendees and talking about your cause, but also try to sneak in a quick thank you to your sponsors. Finally, when your event has ended, always be sure to follow up with your sponsors. Handwritten thank yous are always a great way to add a personal touch and show your appreciation.You can also provide periodic updates to your sponsors about the progress made by the organization or on behalf of the cause, at different times throughout the year. This will help keep your fundraiser top of mind with these sponsors so that they will be more likely to turn into repeat supporters!
After reading this guide, we hope that you feel much more prepared to make fundraiser sponsorship a central part of your next event.It takes a community to grow a fundraiser and expand the awareness of a particular cause or organization. By reaching out to potential sponsors in the community and beyond, you can both benefit by leveraging the exposure and support to perform truly great works!