Communicating With Sponsors
Now that you have developed a sponsorship menu or various sponsorship packages, it is time to make contact with potential sponsors. It should be your goal to arrange as many face-to-face meetings as possible; these are often arranged via email.
Before you begin writing emails to potential sponsors, STOP and plan out what you want to say. Be brief and clear. Today, most people do not have a lot of time to spend reading emails, as a matter of fact, most people skim emails instead of reading them thoroughly. For that reason, your email should be just a few sentences.
In this email, you are requesting a meeting, the purpose of this meeting is to develop and strengthen the relationship you have with the funder. For this reason, you will not want to ask for money either in the email or the meeting. Instead, you will want to get more familiar with the work of the business, who their target audience is and how they are involved in the community. Once you are acquainted and have had a conversation with the funder, it is time to ask the funder if they would be willing to consider a sponsorship proposal from your organization.
Writing the Request
As you prepare to write, think about the business that you are approaching and what their interests are, how they are involved in the community, who their employees are and how your target audience aligns with each of these.
Begin the sponsorship proposal with an introductory paragraph about your organization. This is your opportunity to share who you are and what you do. This is not the place to focus on the needs you meet, your target audience or why the organization was founded.
Sponsorship packages need to focus on what you can do for the sponsor.
Remember, many businesses have sponsorship dollars in their marketing budget. Thus, they are seeking exposure to their ideal customer through sponsorships.
The next paragraph should provide a brief overview of the activity for which you are seeking sponsors.
The third paragraph will need to talk about your audience. Who will be in attendance, who will see your outreach materials, etc.? Align your audience with the ideal client of the sponsor. Ideally, they will overlap and you will want to help the sponsor understand how the two are connected.
Describe the opportunities.
Once you have laid the background foundation, it is time to describe the opportunities your organization is providing to the sponsors. Instead of calling the opportunities “Sponsorship Opportunities,” brainstorm a creative name for related to the work your organization does.
In this section, you will want to provide a statement about how your organization works with sponsors. Be sure you let the sponsors know that the opportunities you are suggesting are merely suggestions to get the process started. Invite them to contact you to discuss their ideas about how they want to engage your audience. Notice, we did not say to support your work.
As you wrap up your letter, remind them again that they can made suggestions if they have them. Reiterate that you are happy to customize sponsorship packages to meet the specific needs of the business.
Conclude with a call to action, “We want to hear from you.” Since so many conversations occur via email, include your email address here. The email address should be one that goes directly to you and not to an admin or info account.
Then, the waiting begins.
Give the sponsor a week or so to respond to your invitation. Remember, depending on the business, others may need to be consulted, budgets need to be reviewed, etc. If you have not heard back from the sponsor in a week, follow-up to see if there are questions that you can answer.
Your initial sponsors may be those who are affiliated with your organization in some way; perhaps, the business of a board member or the business of an organization employee. This is a great way to experiment with your sponsorship menu and determine what the businesses in your area are most interested in.
Sponsorships provide a great opportunity to bring additional revenue to support the work of the organization. Just remember that sponsorships come from relationships and all relationships must be nurtured.