How to Secure Event Sponsorship
The SUDC Foundation currently receives no public funding. The work of fulfilling our mission, including no-cost services to families and funding research, are due to the generosity of private donations- 85% of which comes directly from fundraising events. Because of this, fundraising events are essential to effectiveness of the Foundation. Growing larger events with increased revenue can be aided by securing event sponsorship’s- which can sometimes be tricky to navigate.
We are grateful to all of the dedicated supporters who choose to host an event on behalf of the foundation and hope that the ideas expressed in this article will provide guidance as you navigate the supporter/sponsor relationship.
Event sponsorship or cause-related marketing is a mutually beneficial relationship between you (the fundraising event organizer) and a business or corporation which agrees to support your event. Sponsorship’s are important in multiple ways. They provide tangible benefits such as increased cash flow and donated items for operating equipment/premiums. However, it is also important to remember that sponsorship’s can be in numerous forms. For example, donated materials, commonly referred to as “in-kind” donations are just as valuable as a financial contribution. In addition, sponsorship’s add intangible benefits to your event, such as credibility and recognition. Soliciting, securing and fulfilling sponsorship’s are an essential part of hosting a successful fundraising event.
As, supporters we would all like to believe that most businesses share a widespread desire to be associated with a charity event and the social responsibility movement. However, it is important for you to remember that exposure, positive branding and employee engagement are often critical factors for a business when deciding whether or not to sponsor an event. Simply offering to include a logo on a few promotional items such as a t-shirt or goody bag is not going to be enough to convince them to participate in your event.
Remember that you are competing with other worthy causes for finite marketing dollars. Your prospective sponsor needs to understand how helping your fundraising event would benefit their own company and justify their financial support.
Since the majority of sponsorship’s are derived from a business’s marketing budget you must be prepared to present to the potential sponsor a well thought-out, clearly defined list of tangible benefits the business will receive by sponsoring your fundraising event. The fundraising event in essence becomes the avenue through which the sponsor has the potential to gain more market share. What motivates the sponsor? Is the business looking to advertise a new product or service? Does the business want public recognition for being aligned with social responsibility in the community? Sponsorship committee members should tailor sponsorship packages with benefits that mirror the potential sponsor’s business model in addition to helping them reach their charitable goals. Packages should also include valuable opportunities through which the sponsor can interact directly with attendees. For example, this may be done either personally under a VIP tent, digitally through various social media platforms or offering dedicated space at the event for product showcase.
It is important to identify businesses or prominent community leaders with a connection to the charity or to the group of participants who are attending the event. Personal connections through family, friends and colleagues are all good places to start. Who do they know that works for the business you want to approach? Ask these connections to arrange for an introduction to a chief operating officer or other top executive directly involved with the company’s marketing and/or public relation decisions. Although email may be an excellent start, nothing can replace the value of face to face contact with the top decision makers.
Another way to identify potential sponsors is to look at the demographic lifestyles of the individuals who will likely be attending the fundraising event. What products, goods or services do these attendees frequently purchase? For example, if attendees are young families with small children, consider approaching child-care centers, baby food distributors or toy companies. Planning a 5K run or golf tournament, consider approaching a sporting goods business, financial institution or a car dealership. A National or regional sized business within the geographic area with a connection to the type of fundraising event you are hosting will often participate if the event is already aligned with their charitable goals.
Tip: Do not forget smaller community-oriented businesses. Although they may not be able to commit to a large financial sponsorship, they likely will provide goods or services to help alleviate event expenses.
On the day of the fundraising event be sure to have met or exceeded the commitments you made with each sponsor. Show your appreciation by providing additional value. Over-deliver!
Within two weeks following your fundraising event, confirm your interest in each sponsor’s return on investment by including them in post- event meetings. What specific event benefit (s) did the sponsor find most valuable? Listen carefully to their thoughts. Be prepared to share detailed metrics about the event and how you delivered on them. Ask for critical feedback. Let them share ideas for areas of improvement or suggestions on how you can better meet their unique business needs during future fundraising events.
It is important to nurture and sustain this new business relationship throughout the upcoming year. Send handwritten thank you notes. Provide pictures taken during the event that can be shared on their social media platforms. Continue to tag them in your own social media posts. Remember to thank them again for their support during the holidays with a card or small token of appreciation.
The most successful fundraising event sponsor relationships are those that result in a mutually beneficial experience between the supporter and the business or corporation. However, a win-win partnership can only be successful when both parties share ideas, work together and benefit from this collaborative effort. The best sponsorship relationships offer engagement for employees, offer solutions for customer challenges and develop a meaningful connection with fundraising event attendees, while keeping the fundamental work of the charity at the forefront. Keep this in mind and your partnership will continue to prosper for the years to come.