Event Sponsorships: 3 Tips To Help You Get And Keep More Sponsors


If you’re having trouble getting the financial sponsorship support you need for your event – or if it’s becoming harder each year to retain and grow your sponsorship levels – then I’ve got some tips that may help you out.

What Do I Know?

The team at Sutherland Weston is quite active and involved in our community. Because of this, we receive donation and sponsorship requests frequently. We also work with and counsel other active businesses in the community that get many requests as well. So it’s fair to say that I’ve seen more than my share of requests for money.

And it’s also fair to say that many organizations are struggling to do it right.

Which is too bad because more and more organizations are also struggling to secure the funds needed to support their events each year.

What Do I See?

One of the biggest issues I see is not enough nurturing being put into the ask process itself.  Too many organizations put off thinking about sponsorships until it’s too late and then rush to find money for their event.

Because of this, they start asking folks who they’ve never met before.

I receive far too many nine paragraph emails telling me what the organization is about, what its mission is, what the event is and why the money is needed.  Truth is, nobody has the time to read a novel. (Well the REAL truth is most people don’t care). People are too busy trying to multitask their own to-do list and fulfill their own needs to take time to learn about someone else’s.

More importantly, if you have to explain what the organization is at the same time you’re asking for sponsorship money, you’re starting from a difficult position to make meaningful progress.

Another issue I see is the ask being more about the “stuff” than the value of the cause or event.  I frequently see requests that contain only sell sheets outlining the “stuff” that comes with the sponsorships.  For instance, level “a” comes with this size ad and these wonderful things. Level “b” comes with a little less stuff and level “c” with even less stuff.

Presented only by itself (which happens a lot) this type of ask turns into an advertising decision and not a sponsorship decision. This approach becomes even less effective when the “stuff” sheet is paired with the nine paragraph email I mentioned above.

Finally – and this one is a big one – more than 90% of the requests I see do not take into consideration who the ask is being sent to. The same language, email, and approach is used for every person and company. Many don’t even change the greeting to use a real person’s name. And even more fail to align the value and purpose of their ask with a goal or mission of the business they are asking.

How Can I Help?

Here are three recommendations you can apply the next time your organization is looking to secure, retain or grow sponsorships for your events.

1. Say Thank You – Start with the lowest hanging fruit. It’s much easier to keep someone that has said yes than find a new person to say yes.  Go over the top to say ‘thank you’ to your existing sponsors in a meaningful way. Make it visible. Give added value to their contribution. With social media today, it’s easier than ever to generate considerable exposure for your sponsors.  Don’t wait until the same time next year to connect with those companies that support you. Keep in mind that decision-makers change. Budgets change. Missions change. Don’t take for granted that a company that gave this year will simply give again next year. Make them feel special in between the asks and your retention efforts will become much easier.

2. Start Early – Along with keeping in touch and thanking those who have already supported you, reach out to those who you think could or should support you early on. Don’t wait until your asking ‘crunch time’ to approach someone new for the first time.  Create plenty of time to introduce the organization or the event without the need for an ask well ahead of time. Make sure you’re familiar with the person you’ll be asking. More importantly, make sure they are familiar with you. This will help ease the last-minute rush to find sponsors out of the blue and give your organization a more valuable list of options to work from.

3. Know Your Value – What you offer means different things to different people. For some, it may be access to sheer numbers of people. For others, it may be access to a specific niche of decision-makers or aligning with causes that match their strategic marketing goal. Think about the businesses who have supported your event in the past and the reasons they’ve shared for doing so. Don’t know their reason? Then ask. Building a profile of your best supporters and using the information they provide to find more just like them will make your ask more meaningful and effective.

Closing Thoughts

Keep in mind that your sponsorship ask is one of many that a business will receive. It’s not enough to say we need support. You have to build your case in a meaningful way and show respect and interest in the businesses you’re approaching for the support you need.

The more you take the time to ensure your ask stands out from the rest, the more success you’ll have in retaining and growing your financial sponsorship support.