5 steps to attract sponsors to your nonprofit event
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Events are important to nonprofits organizations for a variety of reasons: they help raise awareness for a cause, can be used to raise money and give you opportunities to reach new audiences. Offering sponsorships at your events gives you partners in promotion and helps cover the event cost.
Sometimes though, bringing sponsors in can seem easier said than done. Even if your event planning budget is small, if your nonprofit is lesser known, if your team is minimal or made up of mostly volunteers, there are still ways to get in front of larger companies and pitch your event. It will just take dedicated effort.
Using these five steps will help you reach your goals securing sponsor companies for your next event.
1. Decide who you want to reach
Define your target audience for sponsorships. If you haven’t already, start by defining your target audience for event attendees. Thinking about this will help you understand what type of companies would want to reach the people who will be at your event. Put together a list of companies that service your target audience to reach out to about sponsorships after you’ve planned out sponsor levels.
2. Define the details
Potential sponsors will want to know what they get, why they should come to your event, who will be there and how much it will cost them. Be prepared to answer these questions before you begin gathering leads. Put together a one-sheet about your event and another one-sheet detailing sponsorship opportunities. Be sure to emphasize the impact the sponsorship will have on your cause. Define the levels, if applicable, what benefits each level receives and how much they cost. You’ll also want to prepare a sponsorship agreement to be signed once you’ve secured a business as an event sponsor.
3. Use your network
The next most obvious step is to ask your own contacts if they would like to consider a sponsorship opportunity at your event. Send a thorough email or LinkedIn message detailing all the information about the event and why they should sponsor. Follow this initial outreach with a personal phone call.
Next, ask board members, current donors or employees, to send you the names of any of their contacts who may be interested in sponsoring your event. Or, better yet, have them reach out and e-introduce you to their business contacts. Building on relationships you or your network already has leverages your chance of securing sponsorships.
4. Begin extended outreach
Once you’ve had phone calls or in-person meetings with potential sponsors from your network, begin putting together your “cold call list.” This is a list of local businesses you may not have contacts at but may be interested in sponsoring your event. Work your way through the list, calling and promoting your sponsorship opportunities. Offer to set up a short, in-person meeting if they would rather talk at a later date or to send an email with more details about the sponsorship.
If you contact a business and are sent to a voicemail or don’t hear back within a few days, be sure to follow up. These potential sponsors likely have a lot on their plate and will appreciate your outreach. Give them a few days’ time to review the email or the details you gave them over the phone before calling again. Don’t take a lack of outreach from your prospects as a “no” until they accept or decline your sponsorship offer.
5. Promote confirmed sponsors
Once businesses begin to commit to sponsoring your event, be sure to promote them as sponsors on your website and social channels. Not only will this show your appreciation for their support, it will spread the word about your event and sponsor opportunities to other businesses.
Build a simplified registration page on your website that makes it easy for businesses to purchase a sponsorship without going directly through you. This page will also be an easy way their employees can use to get tickets for the event.
It may also be a good idea to consider offering a discount code for the highest-level sponsor’s employees. This adds numbers to your attendee count and says “thank you” to this sponsor for coming in at the highest price. It also offers an incentive to other businesses to consider the sponsorship spot next year.
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