How to Ask for a Corporate Sponsorship and Actually Get It
As a nonprofit, major event, small business or sports team, you lack the capital and reach needed to make your event or fundraiser a reality. Having a corporate sponsorship would really help put you on the map, but you always feel like the little fish in the big pond. How can you successfully approach corporations and get them to agree to your sponsorship request?
To obtain a corporate sponsorship, make sure you do the following:
- Choose companies with values more aligned to yours
- Give something back to them
- Have a strong, clear, engaging proposal
- Don’t wait until right before your event to ask for a sponsorship
- If you know how much money you need, ask for it outright
- Reach out again if you don’t hear back
In this article, we’ll elaborate more on all the points introduced above, walking you through what you need to know. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll feel ready to muster up the courage and chase your own corporate sponsorship.
The Benefits of a Corporate Sponsorship
Some smaller companies may convince themselves they can go without a corporate sponsorship, especially if they’ve been turned down by bigger brands time and time again. While it’s not always easy to gain one of these sponsorships, having one can pay dividends for your business. Here are some benefits you’d enjoy.
Every small business or individual businessperson wants to stand out, but the competition out there is fierce. With the backup of a bigger corporation through a sponsorship, your own company gains credibility. This can attract more interest and revenue for your business.
One doesn’t become a household name like Google, Apple, or Nike overnight. Having a successful event or fundraiser with the support of a corporate sponsorship is certainly one way to get your foot in the door, though. Now everyone will begin talking about your company and its recent achievements.
As these new curious faces gravitate towards your business, your audience has the potential to grow. It’s now your job to tend to this influx of leads, building a relationship with them and converting them to loyal, buying customers, fans or donors.
The partnership between you and the bigger corporation could be a one-time deal, although you hope it will become a longer-term arrangement. This sense of connection brings with it networking opportunities and a further chance to increase the size of your customer base.
Tips for Asking for a Corporate Sponsorship
You’ve decided your business could use a corporate sponsorship, and now you’re raring to go. To help you create a game plan, let’s cover the tips from the intro in more detail. Very soon, you’ll find it easier to get more companies saying yes when you ask for a corporate sponsorship.
Be Selective in the Companies You Choose
It’s not within your best interest to blindly connect with any corporation that seems like it has money and/or influence and ask them to sponsor you. Just because they have the goods, so to speak, doesn’t mean they’re a match for you in the end.
Here’s an example of how things could go wrong. Let’s say you’re a small vegan restaurant. You want to hold a restaurant week event in your town to drum up business. You partner with a big food service brand because they have money and are willing to back you. It’s only right before the event you find out this food service is involved with animal butchery.
Do you think your audience would appreciate this information? Of course not. Now, not only will they avoid your event, but your company receives backlash for the mismatched partnership.
To avoid such a damaging business faux pas yourself, make sure you do your research. Learn as much about the companies you want sponsorship from as you can. Then, contact the ones that closely align with your company values. This helps you avoid the scenario above, but further, the corporation may be more likely to work with you since you’re more like them.
Have Something to Give Back
Ideally, you’d like to forge a lasting relationship with your corporate sponsor, as we said before. However, whether it’s a romantic, friendly, or business relationship, no bond survives if one party takes, takes, takes. You must have something to give back as well.
Perhaps you heavily promote your sponsorship partner on your blog and social media. Yes, it’s true you don’t have the same reach as the corporation you’re working with, but at least you’re doing something.
In some cases, it’s enough for the other company to know the metrics expected from the sponsorship. For example, if the sponsorship is online-based like a blog, how many impressions will your website or social media get? If it’s an event, how many people will attend?
These metrics also tell the corporation that their money is going to a worthwhile venture.
Write a Strong, Winning Proposal
If the corporation you’re targeting is big enough, then you have to expect yours won’t be the only sponsorship request they get that week and maybe even that day. Why would they choose to work with you over all those other companies requesting assistance?
That’s a question you have to answer as you begin to write your sponsorship proposal. Perhaps you have an interesting company history. Like we said before, your business could be walking the same footsteps forged by this corporation. Whatever it is that makes you a good candidate for a sponsorship, include it in your letter.
No Waiting Until the Eleventh Hour
Your event is on the 23rd and it’s the 12th by the time you send your first email to a corporate sponsor of your choosing. That gives the company roughly 10 days to assess your proposal, approve it, get back to you, map out your event, and then make it happen. When you consider many companies only work on business days (which excludes weekends), that gives you even less than 10 days.
It’s just not possible to pull something of quality together that quickly. Some sponsors could turn you down for that very reason.
Events like the one you’re hosting rarely come up out of nowhere. You had it planned for quite a while. During those initial planning stages, that’s the ideal time to request a corporate sponsorship. The more time the other company has to make a plan, gather funds, and the like, the better.
Don’t Beat Around the Bush if Asking for Money
Sponsorships come in all shapes and sizes. There are promotional aspects to sponsorships, such as blog posts, podcasts, and webinars. Many corporations offer financial assistance through a sponsorship as well, such as donating to a fundraiser or paying for an event.
If you need money, then don’t go to a corporation talking about blogging or podcasting. It’s financing you’re looking for, so come right out and say it. Be honest about the amount of money you need, too.
This can be hard for some smaller businesses to do, and that’s fair. You’re only shooting yourself in the foot by being shy, though. If you know you need $10,000 and you only request $5k, don’t be surprised if all you get is $5,000. You were the one who didn’t provide a full figure.
Follow up If Need Be
Your day-to-day is quite busy. You have to expect a larger corporation to be just as slammed if not even busier. If a few days go by and you don’t hear anything, don’t sweat it. If it’s a week or two and still no response, now it’s time to do something.
There are plenty of reasons your email didn’t get a reply. Perhaps it ended up in the spam filter, it needs to be forwarded to someone more relevant, or it simply got lost in the shuffle during a busy period.
You can send another email or call the corporation. Should you get in touch with someone, introduce yourself, explain why you’re calling, and ask about the status of your sponsorship request. Hopefully, you get the answer you want!
It can seem impossible for a tiny business like yours to gain the attention of a big corporation for a sponsorship, but it’s anything but. You just have to take the right approach. Select the corporations you work with carefully, craft a great letter of interest, and never be afraid to follow up if you don’t hear back. Best of luck in your quest for a sponsorship!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.