Hosting a fundraising event can be expensive—really expensive. Yet by securing key sponsorships you can save big on the bottom line.
Whether your organization has a casual barbecue, a gala event, or a fun run, the list of items to buy and people to hire may seem endless. And of course, you need to find a way to pay for it all while still managing the event!
Finding the right sponsors for your organization and event can decrease and even eliminate many of those event-related expenses. Sounds great, right? Yet, it’s not as easy as just picking up the phone and asking a local company to “pitch in.” To get the maximum amount to subsidize event expenses, put a team of sales-minded individuals in place who can sell your organization’s mission to targeted sponsors and deliver on a “sponsorship contribution quota.”
Sound a bit corporate? It is—but when it comes to obtaining key sponsorship dollars and services, so more of the funds you raise go to your cause, you have to be just as aggressive and organized as a professional sales team. Start early and recruit your most well-connected and sales-savvy volunteers and staff to be a part of the sponsorship recruitment committee. Is there a local business that offers sales training? Consider offering them a “free” sponsorship in exchange for their services to organize, train, and motivate your sponsorship recruitment committee.
Once you have your committee in place, take the time to brainstorm on the following questions:
- What do you need? Before you determine who to ask, make a list of exactly what you need, including services, supplies, and just plain cash to make your organization and fundraising event successful. Remember- anything and everything can be sponsored!
- Who do you know? To make connections faster, generate a contact list of individuals to approach where there is a personal connection to you, your Board, committee members, volunteers, and/or staff. While you want to reach out via your connections first (it’s more efficient), make sure that the individuals to whom you are reaching out are connected with potential sponsors that can really help you. The “right” sponsors for your organization should be sympathetic and supportive of your cause and be able to provide funding, services, or supplies that will truly benefit your event.
- How do you ask? The best way to gain a sponsorship is by starting with a personal contact. A face-to-face meeting will give you optimal results, but you may want to start with a phone call or letter to start the conversation. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to ask for what your organization needs.
- What can you offer? Sponsors will want to know how they’ll be recognized in return for their sponsorship. Be prepared before you ask by determining what recognition or opportunities your organization is prepared to give. Sponsor benefits are another area where you can get creative. Consider asking potential large sponsors what they want. Their answers may surprise you, and be easier to fulfill than you think.
After you’ve put together your sponsorship committee and strategy, it’s time to assign territories and give your team the tools they need to be successful. And just as a VP of Sales keeps tabs on the progress of his or her team, you’ll need a tool to manage all the details. There are a number of options, including Google Sheets, Evernote, or manage the entire sponsorship process through Event Software.
With the combination of a dedicated committee and a sponsorship strategy, you’ll position your organization for success with obtaining and retaining key sponsorships—while reducing or even eliminating event expenses. And in return, your sponsors will gain more visibility in the community, while supporting a good cause at the same time.