The most effective way to turn a mediocre fundraising event into an annual revenue generator is to secure sponsors to offset your largest expenses. Hosting an event by itself involves significant costs, especially when you factor in event rentals, catering, and marketing expenses. It is very difficult to absorb these costs and make a profit through ticket sales alone. This is where selling sponsorship packages can help, at the very least, balance your upfront costs so the event has a good chance to turn a profit.
Approach Sponsors to Participate in Your Fundraiser
The number one thing to keep in mind when engaging potential sponsors is value perception. Before you ever pick up the phone, you should consider why a particular sponsor fits well with the theme of your event. Once you’ve established which companies are the best targets, you then need to research who within these companies will make the final decision on participation. This is essential because you don’t want to present your pitch to a secretary or associate who will then re-pitch the idea to the decision maker. When a third-party gets involved it can take away from the impact and urgency of your appeal.
What Do Sponsors Look for in an Event?
The first thing event marketers want to know is the demographics of the event. That includes the number of attendees, age range, and education. If you have any data on household salaries or shopping tendencies then be sure to include this as well. Another selling point can be to list other notable companies and community leaders that will be represented at the fundraiser. Outside of “who” is attending, sponsors also want to know how their brand will be presented to the audience.
Make Your Proposal Attractive to Sponsors
Audience engagement is probably the most under-utilized commodity planners can offer their event partners. The days of charging $500 to hang an unkempt banner over pipe and drape are over. The new era of sponsorship measures ROI on how many people will remember a brand’s participation after the event. If you want to distinguish your proposal from the others then focus on incorporating opportunities into the active flow of your event. This single element of interactivity can be the deciding factor between two similar sponsorship proposals.
Unique Ways to Incorporate Sponsorship Engagement
Every fundraising event is going to have unique prospects for integrating sponsorships, which is where you must get creative to provide the best impression of value to your partners. A good place to begin is by creating an inventory of all your potential marketing channels. Use your event itinerary to visualize every point where attendees will engage with speakers, signage, and room interaction. Picture what your attendees will see from the time they open their invitations to the moment they drive away from the event. A simple exercise like this should produce dozens of ideas for you.
Examples of Event Marketing Inventory Items
- Invitation logos
- Directional signage
- Goodie bags
- Employee uniforms
- Banner opportunities
- Public address announcements
- Table sponsorships
- Program booklets
- Free samples
- Prize raffles
- Coupon placements
- Swag giveaways
- Product demonstrations
- Website advertisement
- Email promotions
- Sticker integration
- Branded water bottles
- VIP rooms
- Vendor booths
- Scavenger hunts
- Mascot pictures
The list of ideas is almost infinite!
When Should You Begin to Reach Out to Potential Sponsors?
A good rule of thumb is the larger the company the more time it will take to get a response and commitment in place. For this reason, you want to be contacting sponsor candidates six months in advance of the event date. If you are mailing proposals then be sure to follow up with a phone call about 10 days after the mailing.
Ask to schedule a meeting with the decision maker! Meeting face-to-face will allow you to display your pride and passion for the event while tackling any roadblocks that might get in the way. It is your best bet for securing a large enough sponsorship to cover your expenses.