How to Write a Sponsorship Letter That Actually Works (With Samples and Templates)
I have been getting tons of questions from readers, clients, and workshop attendees about writing sponsorship request letters to secure sponsorship dollars. Before you can send out a solicitation letter, it is important that you fully understand sponsorship as a marketing discipline.
To that end, I have listed some articles that will give you a full picture of the sponsorship landscape and how to increase your chances of success. Check out the following articles and resources:
- How To Get Sponsorship For Anything: A Complete Step By Step Guide
- The Essential Guide To Sponsorship Valuation
- The Definitive Guide To The Sponsorship Proposal
- How To Get Event Sponsorship: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know
- The Complete Guide To Title Sponsorship: Title, Naming And Presenting Rights Defined
I see a lot of the same mistakes being made when sponsorship seekers write a request letter to sponsors, so this post will focus on a structure and a process that will guide your sponsorship efforts. I have also included several sponsorship request letter templates as well as an infographic to guide your efforts going forward.
Scroll down to see the infographic and templates.
What Is a Sponsorship Letter? And When to Use One!
Before diving deeper into what to do and what not to do when writing your very first sponsorship letter, let’s get on the same page with a definition.
A sponsorship letter, which also sometimes goes by the name sponsorship proposal, is your effort to secure funding from your sponsor of choice. You’re not just asking for money, of course, but also detailing what the cash would be used for while incentivizing the sponsor to consider giving.
One situation in which you might opt to send a sponsorship letter is if you were hosting an event but needed fundraising. Through donations from one sponsor or several, you could afford to put on an event of the caliber that can drive your business forward. By promoting the sponsor throughout the event, such as with branding, booths, or even an interactive event, the sponsor gets to reap some benefits as well.
The Sponsorship Request Letter Doesn’t Make the Sale! You Do!
If your first point of contact with a sponsor is writing them a sponsorship request letter, your chances of success are very low. It is incredibly important to involve your sponsors in the process of building a request letter or a sponsorship proposal.
You can use the sponsorship letter to grab their attention, warm up a call or, better yet, to summarize the results of a recent meeting before moving to a full proposal. I think a letter makes more sense as a starting point than a full proposal, but nothing beats a quick phone call or short email to a sponsor to understand their needs before writing anything.
As a last resort, a sponsorship request letter can help open doors…but you have to do it properly!
How to Write a Letter Requesting Sponsorship
What Should Be Included in a Sponsorship Letter?
If the goal of the sponsorship request letter is not to make the sale, then what is the goal?
Simply put, it’s to get the attention of your prospect and to get them to take your call or agree to a meeting. How do you do that? By being crystal clear on your opportunity and your audience. Here is a guideline to follow when creating your own sponsorship letter.
An Introduction to Yourself and Your Opportunity
This is not the time to include a long-winded, multi-paragraph description of your mission, vision, history, and how much money you need to make budget or accomplish your goals. Instead, briefly describe who you are with a sentence or two about your organization. Less is more here.
The Reason You Got in Touch
Why did you reach out to this sponsor in particular? For money, right? Wrong! Tell them why you got in touch with them!
The key word here is “them.” Why did you choose their company in particular? Do you know someone who suggested that you connect? This is the place to mention your mutual contact’s name and why they thought the two of you should meet.
What is it about the potential sponsor’s corporate goals that line up with yours? Do they have a history of sponsoring opportunities like yours? Do you offer access to an audience they’ve indicated is important to them? Is the main contact involved in organizations like yours?
This is where you show them you’ve done your homework and that they are not just one of thousands of letters you are firing out the door.
Information about Your Audience
This is your opportunity to stand out! Sponsorship is all about marketing and sales, and both require a target customer to work. Do you know your prospect’s target customer? Here is where you prove it.
I’m not talking about basic demographic information here or sweeping generalizations like “middle-class families.” I’m referring to data that describes who your audience is, why they are involved with your organization, the types of purchases they plan to make, and data related specifically to your prospect.
Do they buy your prospect’s product already? Can you help your prospect sell more product or keep current customers?
Most sponsorship seekers leave audience data out completely, hoping their prospects will be impressed by their cause or by the prestige of their brand alone. Yet without audience data, you look just like every other proposal that lands on their desk.
Not sure who your audience is? Check out this blog post all about audience data and sponsorship.
Your Activation Opportunities
Need a refresher on activation? Check out this blog post on building activation ideas that work. Craving some inspiration to build up some cool activation ideas? Here are eight activation ideas to get those creative juices flowing!
Instead of focusing on how much money you want from your sponsor, use your sponsorship letter to show your prospect that you understand how sponsorship works. Give them three examples of activation ideas that your sponsors and your audience love.
Show them the types of outcomes you can offer them, like branding, sampling, product placements, or contests. Be specific and clear about the way you work with sponsors and how sponsors can add value to your audience (who is also their target customer).
A Mention of When You Will Follow Up
Let your prospect know you plan to follow up and be specific on when. Tell them you are going to call them on a certain date and time or that you plan to stop by their office on a specific date to say hi. At that time, you can clue them in that you would love to learn more about their goals and how you can work together.
When you tell your prospect you plan to follow up, you are showing them you’re serious about working together. Then add your contact information and invite them to get in touch if the above times don’t suit them.
Faced with an impending meeting with a sponsorship seeker, more often than not, your sponsors will follow up with you first. It may be to tell you “no thanks,” or it could be to learn more about your audience and the cool activation ideas you featured in your letter. Either way, a yes or no is better than silence, requiring you to follow up forever.
When Not to Send a Sponsorship Letter
Your sponsorship letter is all written and polished using the information presented so far in this guide. Before you slap that stamp on, hold up! There are some instances where a sponsorship letter might not even be warranted.
Here’s an overview.
You Have No Prior Connection with the Sponsor
If you think your business or nonprofit is the only one to seek sponsorship, think again. Thousands upon thousands of your competitors will do the same. Maybe they won’t target the same sponsor, but the story doesn’t change all that much.
Any company known for its sponsorship will be bombarded constantly with a pile of letters and endless emails. You have to set yourself apart immediately or your letter will end up in the trash, be that the physical can or the digital one.
That’s why it’s good to have a connection, as I talked about in the last section. By at least wedging your foot in the door through someone who knows the sponsor, your potential sponsor may be more willing to communicate with you. Without that, you’re just another in that endless pile, ignored or trashed completely.
You Forgot Audience Data
It’s best to choose a sponsor to work with in which there’s some overlap, be that similar goals or a like audience. You may know your audience exceptionally well, but the sponsor has no way of gleaning the same info if you leave out audience data.
I seriously can’t stress the importance of this enough. Please take the time to compile your audience data and include it as part of your letter, even if there’s only a brief mention. Otherwise, your letter is not likely to get a second look from the sponsor.
The Timeline Is Too Tight
If your event is next week, then you might as well forget trying to get sponsorship at that point. By the time your letter even reaches the sponsor, it’ll be too late. They could want to help but would be unable.
Sure, the sponsor could want to work with you if you can plan better next time, but your lack of organization can also leave a bad taste in their mouth. You may then miss out on a potentially good opportunity just for your poor planning.
7 Best Practices for Writing Sponsorship Letters
As you comb through your draft sponsorship letter for the dozenth time (or maybe the fiftieth), make sure you follow these best practices for the greatest success.
Lead in with Your Connection
In journalism, there’s a term known as burying the lede (or lead). The lede is the single most important sentence in the article. It should be one of the first sentences and certainly in the first paragraph.
When you bury a lede, the crux of the story doesn’t start until the third or fourth paragraph. The reader might not necessarily get that far, so the whole point of the story is missed.
You can also easily bury the lede in your sponsorship letter if you can’t identify the most crucial components. Believe it or not, that’s not your request for money. Instead, it’s all about who you know.
This separates you from the rest of the pack, taking you from a complete unknown to someone the sponsor may be familiar with. Also, as I said before, it could be the difference between the sponsor reading your letter or skipping it altogether.
If you were at an event and met the sponsor or someone connected you, start with that. The money request can come later, trust me.
Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Will this one letter be the only sponsorship request you send? Probably not. You likely have a huge list of potential sponsors to connect with, but the one doesn’t have to know the others exist.
Personalizing each of your letters is a good way to make your sponsor none the wiser that you’re courting others. Never address your letter to sir, madam, or the dreaded “to whom it may concern.” Find a contact at the sponsorship company and write to them specifically. Talk about the company’s virtues that you like, too.
While yes, it takes more time and effort crafting personalized letters than it does inserting some names into a generic template, it’s worth it.
Remember Who the Letter’s About
Another reason to personalize is that you keep the focus of the letter where it’s supposed to be: on the sponsor themselves. Now is not the time to write an in-depth synopsis on your cause or what you hope to achieve in the fiscal year.
A sentence or two about yourself is necessary, but for the most part, it’s all about the sponsor. Sure, this is kind of like buttering them up, but that’s not a bad thing in this case.
Keep It Short
If your sponsorship letter doesn’t fit on a single page of printed paper, then you need to go back and shorten it.
Sponsors are busy people, just like yourself. They can’t read through pages and pages in an attempt to reel them in and convince them to donate. While there’s no hard and fast word count rule, a few paragraphs should suffice.
Ask for an Opinion or Help
Here’s another trick for piquing the sponsor’s interest: ask for something from them. No, not money (not yet), but maybe their assistance or even their thoughts on something. In doing this, you’re conceding that they’re an expert. You’re also showing that you value what they have to say, something else that could set you on the road to a working relationship.
Set a Time for a Meeting or Phone Call
You may not feel like the most confident person if you’re approaching a sponsor via letter for the first time, but you’ve got to fake it ‘til you make it. Don’t leave it up to the sponsor to determine when you two can next talk.
Again, they’re busy people, so they may not have time for you for weeks or months. Also, if you happen to never hear back from the sponsor–which does happen–then the ball is in their court and that’s it.
Whereas, when you’re the one to propose a day or time for a phone call, like I wrote before, the sponsor has to say something, be it a negative or positive response. Something is always better than nothing, after all!
Avoid Boring Pleasantries
Besides skipping “to whom it may concern,” cut all the rest of the small talk and pleasantries out of your letter. These include things like “hope you’re well” or “how are you?” or even “how’s the weather in [city]?”
These icebreakers don’t come across as very confident. Plus, starting off this way buries the lede, which you don’t want to do.
Four Sample Sponsorship Letter Templates That Work
If you need some extra help perfecting your sponsorship letter, that’s okay. I’ve updated this post with four new templates you can use. These include sponsorship opportunities for events, athletics, golf tournaments, and in-kind contra.
Template #1: Sample Sponsorship Letter for an Event
Arguably the most common sponsorship letter is one to obtain funding for an event. From conferences, expos, and everything in between, if you want financial backing from a sponsor for your event, follow this template.
Hi there [name of person at sponsor company],
I was recently in touch with [contact] about an upcoming event for my company/organization [name], and they mentioned you would be good to reach out to.
My company/organization was thinking of [theme] or [budget] for event and would love to know what you think. We’re currently planning to host the event on [date] [time] at [location]. Our company…[short description of what you do].
We believe we could attract [audience data] through this event, but we’re looking for the right financial backing, such as from [name of sponsor company]. If you help our company/organization, your funding would [list all the perks of the sponsorship opportunity].
Do you have time on [date] [time] to discuss this opportunity further? Please let me know.
Template #2: Sample Sponsorship Letter for Athletes
If you have an athletic team or sports pursuit on the agenda, then the above letter template won’t really work. You need one better-suited to your goals, such as this.
Dear [name of person at sponsor company],
We met a few weeks ago at [sport event]. I remember talking to you then about your interest in sporting opportunities, hence why I thought I’d reach out to you now.
Our company/organization [name] is organizing a [sporting event/team] and would love to have sponsorship from [sponsor company]. The team we’ve built is really talented and excited to play [talk more about virtues], but we need the backing of a company like yours because [talk about what aligns you to sponsor].
By assisting our athletic pursuits, our team would be able to [talk about what the sponsor’s money would provide, such as access to bigger arenas, sports gear and equipment, etc.].
I’d love to speak to you further about this on [day] [time] or whenever you’re available. Please let me know what works for you. Thank you very much for your time.
Template #3: Sample Sponsorship Letter for a Golf Tournament
If you’re focusing more on a specific sport, such as a golf tournament, then your sponsorship letter won’t be identical to the one above. Here are some tweaks to make.
Hello [name of person at sponsorship company],
I was referred to you by [name of whoever connected you] and thought you’d be a fantastic fit as an avid golf fan and supporter.
Our company/organization [name] is hosting a golf tournament on [date] [time] at [location]. As one of the leading companies/organizations in [your neighborhood], [your organization name] has…[small mention about what you do.]
This [golf tournament name] will attract [audience data], which we noticed overlapped with some of your own company goals. Thus, we thought a sponsored partnership would be well-suited to us both.
In accepting the sponsorship, [name all benefits]. I’d be happy to answer any questions or discuss this opportunity with you further. What about [date] [time]? I can also gladly work your schedule. Just let me know.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Template #4: Sample Sponsorship Letter for Contra or In-Kind Sponsorships
What if you’re not necessarily looking for funds or a donation, but rather goods and services? That’s known as an in-kind sponsorship, and it requires a whole different type of sponsorship letter.
Here’s a template to spark your creativity.
Good morning/afternoon [name of person at sponsorship company],
Your name has come up through a few of our [name of organization/company’s] connections, and I thought I’d take the time to formally introduce myself. I’m [name] and my organization/company[name] does [talk briefly about your services].
My [connection name] mentioned your company because [whatever reasons you want to work with sponsor]. Currently, our organization/company [name] is seeking in-kind donations, and we’d like to ask if you’d consider giving.
Our company/organization [name] would need [however many donations] to [whatever goal you’re reaching towards], and we believe you could be an integral help with that. If you donate [talk about where in-kind donation would be used for].
I’d love to discuss this more with you, maybe at [date] [time] if that works for you. If not, please let me know a more appropriate time.
Thank you very much,
Things to Avoid in Your Sponsorship Letter
There are several things you want to not do in your initial outreach. In no particular order, they are:
- Specific financial requests
- Sponsorship grids and levels
- Requests for free products for in-kind sponsorship
- Leaflets, pamphlets, samples or proposals
- Pictures of your stakeholders or program users
- Focusing on need
- Words like “to whom it may concern” (Be sure to address the letter to a specific person)
- Assumptions about their target audience or key demographic
- Sponsorship agreements asking for a signature or contract the first time you reach out to them
Stay focused on the core goal of the sponsorship letter: to present your opportunity in a respectful way and ask for a meeting.
If you sent your letter to a cold prospect, the first thing to do is implement all of the techniques suggested in the blog posts listed in this article. In other words, try to warm up the contact and connect with them directly.
If you can’t make a direct connection to your prospect, then get ready to follow up. A lot. Remember that these folks get hundreds of these types of requests every week (or every day in some cases!). Start by following up on the date and time that you told them you would, then follow up some more.
How to Write a Thank You Letter for Sponsorship
The thank-you letter you send your sponsors is actually called a fulfillment report. In a fulfillment report, you outline all of the things you promised your sponsors, how much they paid for those benefits, both tangible and intangible sponsorship benefits, and then you report on how well you delivered those assets along with the revised value of what you actually delivered.
You want to make sure you thank you sponsors within one week of the end of your event or campaign (or quarterly if you have a yearlong relationship with your sponsors).
Remember, if your first point of contact with a sponsor is writing them a sponsorship request letter, your chances of success are very low! You can use the sponsorship letter to grab their attention, warm up a call or, better yet, to summarize the results of a recent meeting before moving on to a full sponsorship proposal.
As a last resort, after attempting all the techniques listed above, a sponsorship request letter can help open doors…but you have to do it properly! A letter or proposal, no matter how well written, is never a replacement for good old-fashioned sponsor-centric sales.
While a sponsorship letter can be a valuable tool to getting an in with a potential sponsor, you can’t just ask for money right off the bat. There’s an art to writing one of these letters. With the templates, infographic, and best practices highlighted in this article, you’re well on your way to nailing your next sponsorship letter. Best of luck!
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.