How to find, charm, and keep corporate sponsors
Corporate sponsors seem to be everywhere in today’s world. Take the Olympics, for example. Hard to imagine what the skating rink would look like without those ubiquitous banners touting fast-food restaurants and telephone companies. It’s not just the big events that draw sponsors, either. Small, local events—10K runs, award dinners, neighborhood festivals—usually have a slew of corporate logos in the accompanying literature.
Why is corporate sponsorship so prevalent? Quite simply, it makes money. Done correctly, it can make a lot of money and build important relationships. Done poorly, it can cost money and waste many people’s time.
I’ve put together a 9-step guide that offers tips on soliciting, acquiring and retaining corporate sponsors. It is by no means a “definitive” guide, but it is a good starting point. The guide was written with small- to mid-size events in mind, however most of the suggestions offered apply to larger groups as well.
Note: This article will NOT tell you what type of event you should do. That’s another subject. There are many things to choose from, from dinners to auctions to golf tournaments to walk-a-thons. Before you proceed with the nine steps, though, make sure you have a good event. You should not be soliciting sponsors until you’ve planned the event. Once you’ve figured out what your event is going to be, where it’s going to take place, etc., then you’re ready to move to Step One…
1. Determine who your audience is
2. Set sponsorship levels
3. Make lots of phone calls
4. Send proposal letters
5. Follow up
6. Cultivate your relationships with sponsors
7. Cultivate your relationships with non-sponsors
8. Give your sponsors plenty of publicity
9. Cultivate relationships with sponsors, Part II