How to Solicit a Sponsorship

by Christina Whitaker
Ask for donations from corporations or small businesses to help support your event.

Ask for donations from corporations or small businesses to help support your event.

Many nonprofits do great work that is needed in the community. While the work that nonprofit organizations do is highly valuable, they often face significant financial hurdles with smaller budgets. However, one way organizations can continue to provide services to the community is to solicit sponsorships from corporations or even local businesses. Such sponsors may provide supplies, printing, food or funding for events. You may ask that sponsors provide gifts to pass out to participants in your event as well.

Plan ahead of time. Ask for donations three to six months in advance to allow businesses and corporations time to determine if they want to be involved, evaluate their finances and plan their role in your event. It will also allow you to reach out to a number of donors in the event that your first-choice sponsors do not participate.

Identify sponsors. While you should reach out to as many potential sponsors as possible, start with sponsors with whom your organization has a positive relationship from past events. Also, include a list of sponsors who are directly related to the mission of your organization or who have a record of donating to organizations like yours. Finally, prioritize sponsors with whom you have a connection. Perhaps you know someone who works at a company or is an alumnus of your alma mater. These relationships will help make you even more successful in finding sponsors for your event.

Invite industry leaders and members to attend your event. This will help sponsors reach industry professionals who might become clients later. For example, if you are hosting an event that helps kids learn computer skills, inviting school district administrators or library officials may be attractive to a computer company that provides services to schools and libraries.

Determine how you would like sponsors to donate to your event. You can do this by setting sponsorship levels and allowing sponsors to determine how much they would like to donate. This may help to ensure that you receive a minimum donation. Or, if you need supplies or other in-kind donations, note that as well.

Create a publicity plan for potential sponsors. Show how you will publicize them during your event. This will be crucial information when trying to solicit their sponsorship. You want to guarantee your sponsors a certain amount of press and advertisement. For example, you may include your sponsor's logo on all printed material, place free ads in your newsletter or allow them to host a booth at your event.

Write a sponsorship request letter. Include the name of your organization, the type of event and what kind of sponsorship you are seeking. If you are writing to a corporation or business with a specific type of sponsorship in mind, be direct. For example, if you want Subway to donate sandwiches, say that in your letter. Include details about when, why and where your event will take place. Tell how many people you expect to attend or participate, as well as past year's numbers if you have held the event before.

Follow up with phone calls. Call the sponsors and ask if they have additional questions. Reiterate your advertising plans and highlight potential benefits of reaching the guests who will attend your event.

Tip

  • Be persistent in your quest to solicit sponsorships.

About the Author

Christina Whitaker began her writing career in 2005 in newspaper journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and a law degree. Her legal experience includes work in Federal Court, and civil and criminal litigation. She also maintains a blog on social, pop-culture and cultural matters.

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