Potential sponsors for your fundraising event are everywhere. You probably already know them. They could be the owner of your favorite coffee house or print shop, your hair stylist, or even your dentist—the professionals in your personal network who can make a significant difference in your overall success.
Why Should I Find an Event Sponsor?
Sponsors can help you and/or your team in many ways including:
- Donating dollars to your fundraiser
- Offsetting the costs of your fundraiser by contributing products like food, beverages, team t-shirts, or posters
- Helping promote your event through their employees, clientele, and social networks
- Providing fundraising prize incentives, hosting special events, and more
Use these seven proven steps to find, attract, and land your first sponsor!
1. Plant the seed early by sharing your story with businesses you know.
This paves the way for your pitch. Just remember: businesses are frequently asked to participate in fundraising events, so expect to compete for available (and limited) dollars. Improve your odds by starting the process early.
2. Create a short list of local businesses that you frequent.
Identify businesses where you have a strong relationship with the manager, owner, or someone who has influence with the decision maker. In addition, ask your friends or colleagues if they have connections to other businesses in your community and if they’re willing to advocate on your behalf or make an introduction. The more people you approach, the more opportunities you’ll create for success.
3. Know what you want.
In addition to giving dollars, there are hundreds of different ways sponsors can play a role. For instance, if you’re hosting a fundraising BBQ and know the manager at a local grocery store, see if they’ll donate food and beverages. If you know a freelance designer, ask them if they’ll volunteer their time to design your team t-shirt, flyers, or Facebook graphics to help promote your event.
4. Write a “pitch” outline.
Knowing what you’re going to say before you meet with your sponsor will give you the confidence you need to put your best foot forward.
To help prepare for your conversation, develop answers for the following questions:
- Why are you holding a fundraiser or participating in a Shatterproof event?
- Are you honoring the memory of a loved one/celebrating someone in recovery?
- What’s your fundraising goal?
- What will it mean to you personally if you reach your goal?
- In what ways can the sponsor best meet your goals (by donating dollars, products, or services)?
- How will the sponsor’s involvement make a difference for the cause?
Pro Tip: Rehearse what you’re going to say at least 5 times before the meeting. The practice will help you speak with greater clarity during your conversation.
5. Meet in person.
Face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to pitch a sponsor. Visit prospects during non-peak hours so you’ll have their full attention. If they’re busy, schedule a meeting. When you get to your pitch, be bold. Share your story. Make the interaction warm and personal. What matters most is that you speak from the heart and ask for their support.
6. Establish realistic expectations.
Businesses are frequently approached to sponsor fundraisers, so if you don’t get a “yes” during your first encounter, don’t give up. It might take a few weeks to a few months for them to get on board. Ask permission to follow up. The next time you ask, they might just say “yes.”
Pro Tip: If someone doesn’t commit during your first talk, see if they’ll display your event poster, share information about your fundraiser through their social media sites, or if they’ll introduce you to another local vendor.
7. Send a thank you card or email after your meeting.
Whether or not they become a sponsor, express your gratitude. This has the added benefit of setting you up for future requests. And it just feels right.
Ultimately, sponsors will help you raise more funds, reach more people, and potentially create entirely new connections that can last a lifetime.
The only way to know...is to ask.