Who do you know? Once you know what you need, it’s easier to find the right sponsors for your organization. The “right” sponsors for your organization should be sympathetic and supportive of your cause and your constituency and be able to provide funding and/or services. Generate a contact list of individuals to approach. Who do you, your Board, committee members, volunteers, and employees know? Be creative and inventive when compiling a potential sponsor list—you can always edit the list afterwards.

Keep in mind that your list should be a list of people, not organizations or companies. You’ll have more success if you target individuals rather than organizations, no matter how tempting or appropriate the potential sponsoring organization may be. 

How do you ask? The best way to gain a sponsorship is by starting with a personal contact, then asking for a favor. Don’t be afraid! People only donate if they’re asked.

Exactly how you ask depends on your style. Asking using a personal touch is important. As part of your brainstorming on who you know, note relationships and things in common with the potential sponsor, and bring up those items in your approach. Letter, email, phone call, meeting, or a combination? Do what you’re most comfortable with and you’ll be most natural, but keep in mind that you may have to get out of your comfort zone or take several different approaches to land the sponsor. 

Personal touches always win out. Sometimes gaining a sponsor takes a bit of ingenuity. When corporations are asked by many different groups and budgets are tight. You can get creative if needed suggest splitting a sponsorship between two like-minded companies, giving recognition to each.

What can you provide and how can you credit your sponsors? Sponsors will want to know how they’ll be recognized in return for sponsorship. Be prepared before you ask by understanding what recognition your organization is prepared to give. Be prepared to be creative to get the great sponsorships.

Effective recognition gestures include signage in the check-in area, in the main event room, on the tables and on guests’ seats. Place your sponsors’ ads or logos in the event catalog, on the online auction web site and even in the pre-event invitations. Be flexible in your recognition efforts. One idea is to hold a thank you luncheon for your sponsors after the event.

If you are executing public relations activities as part of the event, be sure to mention your sponsors in announcements and press-related activities. Better yet, get a media sponsor, like a local newspaper or radio or TV station, and leverage those outlets to promote your event to attendees and other sponsors.

After you’ve put together your sponsorship plan of attack – your list, your ask strategy, and a specific sponsor return on investment- don’t forget to arm your procurement and other committees with your knowledge. “Don’t assume that just because they volunteered to be on the sponsorship committee, that they know lots of people, and know what to do

A little legwork will go a long way to landing a great sponsor. And in return, sponsorships give businesses another means to gain visibility in the community – while supporting a good cause at the same time.


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