Getting Past the Online Sponsorship Request Form

We hear this question a lot. “I keep getting sent to the online form…what should I do?” The question refers to those online forms that companies have on their website for you to complete to apply for sponsorship.

The question is, should you fill it out.

The answer is…yes!

But not without a story first. We were working with two clients, both completed an online form for the same company, one got a big five figure sponsorship while the other didn’t. What was the difference between the two applications?

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Sponsorship Request Forms Gone Wrong

Property A was a client of ours. They had an event planning and sponsorship committee helping them with their event. Somehow the committee got the impression that their role was that of giving advice. Naturally, not a single person on the committee had expertise in sponsorship yet they were sure they understood the space. Our client told us that this committee insisted that all they had to do was fill out the form on a major bank’s website and money would come pouring in.

They asked me what to do and I told them that the existence of an online form has no impact on sales best practices. They disagreed, submitted the form, waited 180 days, were declined and missed budget.

The Online Sponsorship Request Done Well

Property B was also a client of ours. They had an equally sharp sponsorship sales pro in place and an equally connected committee to help with event planning and sales. The difference in this case is that the committee trusted their sponsorship sales pro and let them guide the process.

Inevitably, the committee mentioned how easy it is to get money from the same big bank as Property A. After all, they reasoned, they had a form online and they fit their sponsorship criteria perfectly. I told Property B how to do good sponsorship sales and instead of completing the form, they used their network and some good old fashioned prospecting to find a contact within the organization and they did a good discovery session with that contact.

After their second meeting with that prospect, they were given the green light for their project! No sponsorship package needed, just a handful of discussions and negotiations. As my client got up to leave the office, their contact told them “oh yeah, can you just go online and fill out that form? We need to rubber stamp it to release the money.”

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Online Sponsorship Forms are a Distraction

Both of these rights holders filled out a form. One of them did so thinking that the form was in itself a sales tool. The beginning and end point of sponsorship sales. The other property followed sponsorship sales best practices and made the sale, using the form to satisfy internal policy of the sponsor.

So, should you fill out online forms requesting sponsorship? Absolutely! But before you do, make sure you’ve already closed the sale with your sponsor.

Chris Baylis is an expert in sponsorship valuation and sponsorship strategy. Chris works with brands and sponsorship properties to define their sponsorship goals, determine market value of their sponsorship assets and create strategies that work.

Chris is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective, a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and an international speaker and consultant on all things sponsorship marketing.

1 Comment

  • Hi Chris, appreciate your insight here, have been enjoying your articles. I just wanted to weigh in here in regards to the online sponsorship portals. I sometimes get the feeling that groups looking for sponsorship feel slighted when they are referred to our online portal. The fact is, every organization needs a vetting tool, whether its one on one with a senior leader ticking the boxes in his/her head as they talk to a potential partner, or in our case, an online tool which collects all the requests, puts them in one area, and does the majority of the analysis for us. Our company had over $14,000.000.00 in requests for sponsorships from various organizations across our province. This ranged from small one off events for a 1000.00 to 250,000.00 . The reason we have the online portal? Sheer volume, the fact is , we try to talk to our potential partners, but with a team of 7, and approximately 300 events annually we spend most of our time on activation, marketing and brand development. There is no way for us to manage the intake of requests without the portal. I guess my point to your readers is the portal is there to help streamline the process. The emphasis is to catch the readers eye with the important facts and notes about your event. Almost all the information you need about the company and their goals is on the website or in the annual business report. Spend the time you need to understand the company, and fill in the form appropriately, but don’t get frustrated if we can’t answer every question you have, its a matter of sheer volume, not disrespect that we direct you to the online tool. thanks for listening…

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