An Overview of What It Takes to Land a Corporate Sponsorship

corporate sponsorshipPerhaps you’ve noticed the advertising logos painted on race cars or the banners of local businesses lining the outfield fence at the nearby minor league baseball stadium. You may even know a six-year-old whose basketball team’s teeshirts bear the name of a local insurance agency. These are all examples of a primary means by which the world goes around, one known as corporate sponsorship. It is a type of partnership whereby an organization in corporate America partially or fully funds the needs of a person, team, program, event or other entity in exchange for tangible and intangible benefits such as name recognition, tax write-offs, advertising and more.

How Do Corporate Sponsorships Work?

A business or firm agrees to underwrite a particular need or cause for a predetermined amount of money. Usually the funding is for a one-time event or need, although it may also be for an agreed upon period of time, such as a calendar year. Although it isn’t unheard of for a sponsor to volunteer its funding, it is far more common for the person or organization in need to go in search of sponsors. Sponsorships are sought at all levels of financial commitment and scale, from the high school teenager seeking pledges for every mile he walks in the March of Dimes to a gymnast seeking to compete at the Olympic level. Sponsorships make it possible for people to achieve dreams that would otherwise be impossible.

Corporate Sponsorships are a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

It is important for those seeking a sponsorship to understand that there is a difference between a corporate sponsorship and charitable giving. Rather than being altruistic in nature, a sponsorship is a two-way relationship that benefits both parties. That a sponsorship is philanthropic is a frequent misunderstanding, driven in part by the fact that the recipients are often nonprofits. Corporate sponsorships work best when the person or organization in need of funding finds sponsors with the means to provide a sponsorship and that wish to provide the sponsorship. This is why the sponsorships that work best are often those in which the product sold by the corporation is one whose image benefits from its association with the entity being sponsored. An example of this would be a sporting goods company sponsoring an athletic team or event.

What is the Process for Finding a Sponsor?

When considering how to get sponsors for an event, program or person, you will need a sponsorship letter and proposal. This is the stage at which you should do your homework. Prior to writing your letter, learn all you can about the corporation you hope will help you with your goals. The letter, which should be written in a formal business style, should serve as an introduction of the person, organization or event. It should state what it is the person or group does, stands for, and what it is that it is attempting to accomplish. Ultimately, the proposal is a type of sales pitch. The better the pitch, the greater the likelihood of success. It is essential that the sponsorship proposal clearly identify all the ways in which the corporation stands to benefit should it be willing to provide sponsorship.

Are There Any Helpful Shortcuts on the Road to Finding Sponsors?

A sponsorship proposal can be compared to a resume in the sense that anyone can write one, but they are not all of the same caliber and will not be received equally. As is the case with resumes, there are companies that will help you to write a sponsorship letter and proposal but, unfortunately, such services often come with a steep price tag. Perhaps a better bet would be simply finding a guide that will teach you how to write an outstanding proposal. The process isn’t difficult, but most people find guidelines invaluable in overcoming the learning curve. The old adage is true: you never get a second chance to make a great first impression. The best potential sponsors are used to receiving the professional quality proposals. If you or your organization are to receive serious consideration, your letter and proposal should eloquently and succinctly state your case.

Put Yourself in the Potential Corporate Sponsor’s Place

The ultimate goal in seeking a sponsor is not only to build a mutually beneficial relationship, but also a lasting one. This is particularly true in circumstances where the need for a sponsor is likely to be one that repeats on a regular basis. Therefore, consider what the potential sponsor’s needs might be. What are their marketing goals? Why do they sponsor people in the first place? What can you do to foster trust and respect? What can you provide that your sponsor might need? By spending time researching possible sponsors and determining how you can benefit them you are positioning yourself to catch their attention and receive their consideration.

Always end your proposal with a call to action. Remember your manners, and thank your contact person for his or her consideration. Proofread carefully and, whatever you do, don’t email it. Instead, spend the money to have it printed professionally. Make certain that all of your contact information is included and that it is correct.

Once you’ve mailed it, you can take a big sigh of relief. If the corporation chooses to become your sponsor, then celebrate! However, do not despair if they choose not to sponsor you at this time. Priorities change all the time and by keeping the relationship alive, the chances that you might be chosen next time are improved.

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