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9 Things Everyone Hates About Sponsorship 

by | February 21, 2024

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Here at the Sponsorship Collective, I’m a big fan of sponsorship. If you’ve made it to this page, I’d assume you’d have probably guessed that. But I recognize that not everyone feels as strongly as me about it; not even close. 

So, what ranks highest among the duties sponsorship seekers abhor? Here are the top 9 things everyone hates about sponsorship:

  • Research
  • Cold calling
  • Asking for money
  • Creating assets
  • Valuation
  • Brainstorming activations
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Following up
  • Rejection

Are most of these largely part of the sponsorship process? You betcha. However, not all are. By reworking how you go about the above tasks, you can reduce your failure rate and hatred of sponsorship.


I’m sure most of us don’t want to spend more time in front of a computer poring over data than we need to. The fact that sponsorship isn’t a part of most day-to-day job responsibilities but is something we’re doing in addition to our full-time jobs makes some of the duties taxing.

Researching is at the top of the pile. I completely understand that, and while I wish there was a way around researching, there isn’t.

The best I can do is suggest that you know who you’re researching and what to ensure you don’t waste your time. 

The research phase follows prospecting. If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about, prospecting is how you search for sponsors. 

You should send an audience survey and ask your customers/attendees/donors what kinds of brands they enjoy using and consuming. If you host an event, query your audience on the last event they went to and what they liked about it. 

You will generate a list of brands from the survey responses; this list includes your hottest prospects. You’ll add more prospects based on brands that advertise to the audiences of your prospects.

Then, you can move on to the research phase. This part of the process tells you what you need to know about a potential sponsor before scheduling the discovery session. There, you can ask the sponsor more questions about their behind-the-scenes data, such as product sales, companywide ROI, marketing campaign metrics, the works.

The research you do now tells you everything public about the company, including its brand values, its products and services, and other partners it works with. This information helps you make a judgment call about whether to work with a sponsor.

You must research every prospect you add to your list. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that, but if I ever discover a way to research in my sleep, you’ll be the first to know. (Trust me, I wish I could!)

Cold Calling

No one likes cold calling, and that applies beyond sponsorship. It takes a lot of time to work up enough nerve to call a stranger and ask them for their cash.

If you don’t come from a job where cold calling is part of your regular routine, the thought of picking up the phone becomes even more daunting. Perhaps you put it off, and put it off, and put it off some more. Maybe you think about sending an email instead.

Cold emailing versus cold calling is still the same thing; one is just easier because you don’t have to physically talk to anyone. 

There’s an even better way to ensure you never have to cold call another sponsor again. 

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Find a contact within their company. 

Yes, it’s that easy! If you don’t know anyone in the company, ask your colleagues if they do. You can even cast a broader net and ask your vendors or business partners. 

If you have enough contacts, you can rest assured that someone should have a contact in the sponsor company

Sure, it’s still sort of cold calling if you don’t know the contact yourself, but it’s slightly less awkward than calling a stranger.

Remember, the point of picking up the phone or rattling off an email is to schedule a discovery session. If you keep your goal in mind when you call, you’ll get off the phone that much faster.

Asking for Money

Another struggle among sponsorship seekers is asking for money. Well, some have qualms about it. Others are very upfront in doing so. 

Listen, there’s a time and place in sponsorship to ask for money. If you do everything right, you might not even have to be that overt, which I’m sure some of you reading this will be glad to hear. 

Here’s what I recommend you do first. Go back through your sponsorship proposal draft and remove any mentions of money. That’s right, any and every mention. Delete your cuttable coupons, get rid of your check request, and remove your asset and activation pricing. 

Trust me on this. I know it feels scary, but you can’t talk about money with your sponsor until you know your value, and you can’t know your value until after you do a proper valuation. 

Listen during the discovery meeting to your sponsor’s challenges and fine-tune your solutions to their challenges. If you do that, you and the sponsor will begin negotiations and talk about money then. 

You never have to awkwardly bring it up yourself. Hooray!

Creating Assets

Another element of sponsorship most people hate is asset generation. I think that’s because I’ve drilled it into enough people’s heads that assets are more than logos, and they get frustrated with that because they’re not sure what else to offer. 

Assets can be almost anything, including tangible and intangible. They depend on the needs of your sponsor but can include naming rights, promotions, contests, giveaways, and interviews. You can throw logos in there, but understand that they’re not very valuable. 

Another reason sponsorship seekers get frustrated with asset creation is that they do it too early. They begin the sponsorship process by creating assets, then they begin seeking sponsors. That’s backward.

You should find a sponsor first, then create assets tailored to their needs based on what you learned during the discovery session. When you do it like that, two things happen.

One, you’ll learn that it’s easier to create assets than you thought. Second, your assets will be much higher value than if you didn’t bother customizing them.


If you hate valuations because you dislike working with numbers, I get it, but I can’t help you there. If you hate valuations because you don’t think you’re doing them correctly, that I can help with. 

Let me explain what a valuation is. It’s the process of determining the worth of your activations and assets.

A lot of sponsorship seekers get to the valuation phase and begin guessing at numbers because they have no idea what to do otherwise. They don’t understand a proper valuation or how it’s done.

Others find a valuation online and use that, because hey, why do all the hard work and numbers crunching when someone took care of it for you?

You must value your own assets because hopefully, you’re offering something completely unique to what others have done. That doesn’t mean each asset you make must be 100 percent brand-new never been seen before, but you should have a unique collection of assets tailored to your sponsor. 

That’s why you can’t rip what you find online from someone else and apply it to your sponsorship program. It doesn’t work that way. 

You also have no idea if the numbers you’re borrowing were correctly calculated, so you could lose out on money by stealing someone else’s work. 

Valuing requires you to research the market value of your service. Yes, I know, more research. It’s a drag, but it must be done. 

When you’ve determined the market value, compare it against the value of your services. Then, adjust your value based on the quality and expertise of your assets.

It’s really not that difficult once you get the hang of it. If anything, it’s time-consuming, considering many sponsorship seekers can generate close to 100 assets. 

Again, while I wish there were a way to save time during valuations, there isn’t that I’ve found yet.

Brainstorming Activations

Here’s another sticking point I’ve frequently seen come up when discussing sponsorship: the hatred of creating activation ideas. 

I can understand why. You’re likely feeling creatively bankrupt by the time you’ve gotten past the prospecting and discovery phases and are moving on to assets and activations

Many times, the sponsorship seekers I’ve worked with and spoken to have put way too much pressure on themselves to create the perfect activation. I’m not saying give it half effort here, but don’t feel like you must come up with something that’s never been seen or done before to satisfy your sponsor.

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Your sponsor wants their goals fulfilled. Your audience has needs as well. When you can find a way to meet the needs of your sponsor and audience with your activation, congratulations, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

That’s what an activation should be about: substance over flashiness. You can add plenty of pizzazz to an activation once you’re sure it’s achieving the required goals, but not before. 

Here’s a point I also must mention. You don’t have to spend thousands or tens of thousands on your activation for it to succeed. I’ve seen sponsorship seekers blow their sponsors out of the water with low-cost activations. 

Whatever you need to spend to meet your sponsor and audience’s needs is what you should spend. It’s usually not as much as you’d think.

Scheduling Meetings

Another aspect of sponsorship most people can’t stand is scheduling meetings. This goes back to the added responsibility that sponsorship brings atop all the other everyday work responsibilities you already have.

If your job requires you to constantly be on the phone or set up meetings, of course, the last thing you want to do is spend your personal time doing the same.

However, you can’t have a discovery session unless and until you ask for it. I wish sponsors could read our minds and vice-versa, but they can’t, so you must be upfront and ask for what you want. 

Keeping in mind your goal–which is setting up the discovery session–should make it a little easier to schedule that first meeting. 

Here’s another tip for you: BAMFAM. That stands for book a meeting from a meeting.

You’ll go through far less stress if you remember BAMFAM throughout your sponsorship journey.

You know how busy you get in your day-to-day working life. You can bet your sponsor is just as busy, possibly more so. When neither of you has a meeting by the time your current one wraps up, you run the risk of both parties getting so busy that no one sets up another meeting.

You don’t want a potentially viable sponsorship deal to peter out because you both got too busy. Book your meeting during your current meeting. Suggest a date and time you know you have available, so you don’t have to ping-pong 10 emails back and forth trying to nail down the basic details.

The sponsor will either agree to the date and time you recommended or suggest one that works better for them. Before you know it, it’ll be meeting booked, and on to the next sponsorship task.

Following Up 

In a perfect world, a prospect would respond to every email instantly. They’d hear that voicemail you left and call you right back.

Sometimes, it’s the aforementioned busyness that keeps a sponsor from getting back to you as soon as they’d like. In other instances, they don’t want to work together and hope that by silently rejecting you, you’ll take the hint.

You won’t know which is which until you follow up at least a few times.

Following up doesn’t mean blowing up the prospect’s phone or email inbox with repeated attempts at communication. There’s a nuance to it you must follow. 

Here’s how I do it: 

  • Day one: Email #1
  • Day two: Email #2
  • Day three: Email #3
  • Day four: Phone call #1
  • Day five: Email #4
  • Day six: Email #5
  • Day seven: Phone call #2

You should have several contacts in the sponsor company. This cadence applies to one of them at a time. Follow through with the same cadence for a second or third person if you must, but go one at a time, or else you’ll forget who you emailed versus called and how many times.

If two or three people don’t get back to you, and you’ve completed the full cadence, you’ve spent three weeks on outreach by now. It might be time to gear up for…


Ouch. This one stings. 

I wish rejection weren’t a part of the sponsorship process, but unfortunately, it is. 

So, why does rejection happen? For all sorts of reasons! Let me list some:

  • You didn’t bother customizing your assets and activations.
  • You asked for money upfront.
  • You skipped the discovery session.
  • You sent an unsolicited sponsorship proposal. 
  • You asked for too much money. 
  • You waited too long to get in touch with the sponsor, and they don’t have the funds and/or availability anymore. 

I could go on and on, but sometimes, you truly don’t know what you did wrong, and you never will. A sponsor could reject you for no reason beyond that they changed their minds. 

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What does rejection look like? Often, it’s radio silence. That’s why I only recommend repeating that communication cadence for three contacts in the sponsor company max.

You don’t have an infinite amount of time to diddle around on people who won’t respond to you. A robust prospects list gives you plenty of other options to explore if a sponsor says no or ghosts you.

Bottom Line 

We all have parts of our job that are tough. In the case of sponsorship, a lot of it is tough. This can cause many sponsorship seekers to grow to hate the process. 

I get where the hatred stems from, but learning to do sponsorship properly will make a lot of the required steps easier to manage. I hope this guide acts as your starting point!